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Stephen G. Nichols, Gerald Prince, and Wendy Steiner

Series Editors

Re-visions of Culture and Society


Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and TheirTragic Other

Suzanne Gearhart


1992 The Johns Hopkins University Press

All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America The Johns Hopkins University Press 701 West 4oth Street Baltimore, Maryland 21211-2190 The Johns Hopkins Press Ltd., London The paper used in this book meets the minimum requirements of the Amer ican National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z3948-1984.

For Thomas, Matthew, and David

Gearhart, Suzanne, 1947The interrupted dialectic : philosophy, psychoanalysis, and their tragic other I Suzanne Gearhart. p. cm.-(Parallax) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN o-8018-4359-6 (he : alk. paper) 1. Literature-Philosophy. Md.) PN49.G44 801-dczo 1992 91-44187 2. Psychoanalysis and literature. I. Title. 3. Tragedy. 4 Tragedy-History and criticism. II. Series: Parallax (Baltimore,

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Introduction: The Birth of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis I 1

1: The Identities of Tragedy: Nietzsche, Benj amin, Freud I 17 2: Philosophical Identification, Tragedy, and the Sublime : Hegel, Kant, and Antigone I 38 3: The Interrupted Dialectic of Modern Tragedy: Hegel, Corneille, and the Feminine Challenge to Aufhebung I 71

The Uneasy Identification of Psychoanalysis and Tragedy: Freud and Racine I 97 The Sexual Interruption of the Real: Auerbach and Manon


Lescaut I 133 6: The Dialectic and Its Aesthetic Other: The Problem of Identification in Diderot and Hegel I 157 7: The Tragic Matrix of Speculative Philosophy: Generalized Mimesis and the Paradoxe sur le comedien I 182 8: Sexual Identification and the Social: Freud and Beaumarchais I 207
Conclusion: Tragedy and the Problem of Culture I 238 Notes I 247 Index I 269


Introduction: The Birth of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis

The principal thesis of this book is that both speculative (Hegelian) philosophy and (Freudian) psychoanalysis are modeled after and elaborated to an important extent in terms of a particular view of trag edy, that is, that the interpretation each gives to tragedy plays a cen tral role in their self-constitution and theoretical self-justification. In fact, it could even be argued that much of the critical force of each is derived from the strength of their interpretations of individual tragic works and the manner. in which they develop and generalize the in sights that they claim are already to be found in tragic literature. If this is so, then it follows that those currents of contemporary theory that are either explicitly or implicitly indebted to either dialectical phi losophy or psychoanalysis - indebted either positively or negatively also are rooted in and limited by a particular relation to the tragic. In the chapters that follow, I analyze the implications for modern (speculative) philosophy and for psychoanalysis of their profound interest in tragedy and the theoretical effects of their interpretations of tragedy. Through critical readings of works of philosophy, psycho analysis, and literature, my aim is to clarify what draws Hegel, Freud, and others to tragedy as well as the significance of their ability to find in it a confirmation of many of their most important theoretical insights. If, in The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche traced the life of tragedy from its birth in Dionysian festivals to its death in Socratic philoso phy, The Interrupted Dialectic focuses rather on the birth of speculative philosophy and psychoanalysis in tragedy and the consequences of this birthplace for each. Questions concerning the fundamental relation between tragedy and what we would now call modern theory, at least in its psychoan alytic form, are certainly not new. For example, this relation is the basis of Jean Starobinski's essay "Hamlet and Oedipus" (in his La Rela tion critique [Paris: Gallimard, 1970]), in which he examines the role played by Freud's interpretation of these two exemplary tragic works



in relation to psychoanalysis. Starobinski's conclusion is that Oedipus, in paticular, not only serves as an especially noteworthy case study for psychoanalysis but also must be considered a matrix or model for psychoanalytic theory itself. As various chapters of this book argue, this thesis is of crucial importance for understanding not just the nature and critical force of psychoanalysis, as Starobinski argues, but also, and in my mind equally important, its limitations. The problem Starobinski addresses in his essay on Hamlet and Oedi pus extends beyond Freud and psychoanalysis, where the fundamen tal debt to at least these two exemplary tragedies is explicitly ac knowledged. It includes not only Hegel but also a much broader philosophical and critical tradition, which has also viewed tragedy as an exemplary-if not the exemplary-form of literature and art gener ally, and in some sense situated and even constituted itself in terms of what it postulated as the essence of this exemplarity. In the chap ters that follow, I argue that if psychoanalysis and various forms of philosophy and criticism fmd their theoretical insights confirmed in tragedy, it is because they are already being "thought" by tragedy, but not necessarily in the same terms that they project onto it. That is to say, tragedy prefigures philosophy and psychoanalysis in their major lines, confirming certain of their insights but also providing the grounds for questioning others. Because of its self-consciously dialectical nature, the philosophy of Hegel plays a crucial role in dramatizing the process through which philosophy interprets tragedy. From the perspective of Hegelian phi losophy, tragedy cannot be a mere object for philosophical interpreta tion. Philosophical interpretation must find itself in tragedy. In other words, philosophy must be seen as a negation and at the same time a retention and sublation of tragedy; and philosophy itself can claim to be higher than tragedy only because it incorporates tragedy into itself, because its own truth has a tragic dimension. The dialectic of tragedy and philosophy is a process out of which philosophy itself emerges as absolute, because of the way it i.s able to recognize itself in tragedy and merge with it without losing its own identity. Hegel's interpretation of tragedy, however, offers only the most explicit ver sion of a dialectic that can be found in implicit form in the work of other interpreters of tragedy- including Lessing, Nietzsche, Freud, and Eric Auerbach, to name only those philosophers and critics I treat at some length in this work.

As my title indicates, what is especially significant for me about the dialectic of philosophy and psychoanalysis with tragedy is that it is an interrupted dialectic. It is interrupted not just by accident or from without- as dialectical reasoning itself readily admits as part of the process of the negation and incorporation of the exterior within the interior-but rather, of necessity and from within. The problem is not that in tragedy, philosophy and psychoanalysis confront a form of alterity so radical they cannot incorporate it into themselves and become its Aufhebung. Rather, it is that tragedy lends itself all too well to philosophical or psychoanalytical interpretation, and, as a result, the question becomes whether philosophy itself or tragedy better exemplifies philosophy, whether psychoanalysis itself or tragedy bet ter exemplifies psychoanalysis. The mirror tragedy offers to philoso phy and psychoanalysis is one in which they can indeed recognize themselves, but always at the risk of losing themselves, becoming totally disoriented and unable to tell which is other and which is self. In other words, the identification between philosophy or psychoanal ysis and tragedy is radically problematical because it undermines as much as it confirms the identity of philosophy and psychoanalysis. I argue that it is never completely clear whether tragedy is an (infer ior) form of philosophy or psychoanalysis, or if philosophy and psy choanalysis are simply forms or derivatives of tragedy and thus expressions of its "truth." In this sense, the idea that the dialectic leads to a reconciliation of tragedy and theory which is commanded by theory must itself be put into question. The dialectic appears to be constantly in danger of being broken off before reconciliation is achieved, interrupted by a conflict between two rival forms of either psychoanalysis, philosophy, or tragedy. The interrupted dialectic is one in which philosophy and psychoanalysis are joined in conflict with tragedy, and the conflict is irreconcilable precisely because it stems from what in each case each has in common with the (its) other. The dialectic of philosophy (or psychoanalysis) and tragedy can be understood as merely one version among others of a dialectic that unites - and also divides - philosophy (or psychoanalysis) and art as a whole. But this dialectic is of particular critical significance to mod ern theory as a whole because of the central role played by the pro cess of identification in tragic poetics and texts. The term identification as such is, of course, not found in the work of Aristotle, Lessing, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, or that of the French dramatists I discuss in

this book. I argue, however, that if the term itself is not present, a contradictory process of identification, as it will be belatedly defined and elaborated by Freud, is at work. My argument is that this process of identification is as central to the interpretations of tragedy given by all of the above thinkers and writers - and thus to the constitution of speculative philosophy and important currents of contemporary theory- as the concept is to Freud's theory of the psyche. Thus, I argue, it is legitimate to read their work in terms of the issues raised by the complex role Freud attributes to identification, especially in the complicated history through which the subject is constituted. For some of the figures I deal with, the process of identification implicit in their discussion of tragedy is positive, in the sense that by "putting oneself in the place of the other, " as Freud puts it, the subject confirms or "authentifies" itself. For others, it is a negative moment of a dialectic through which the subject must pass, a moment in which the subject is menaced with or experiences destruction and loss as it moves outside itself, but one that ultimately allows it to (re)confirm itself on a higher level, with the successful overcoming of negativity and otherness. In most cases, in fact, the process is both positive and negative at the same time. But, as I argue, what is ultimately at stake in the work of each of these figures, including Freud, is the question of whether the process of identification is secondary, in the sense that it can only confirm or negate a pre-given subject, or primary, that is, prior to any (sense of) self and in that sense constitutive of, rather than derived from, the subject. For modern speculative philosophy, with its emphasis on the subject as the starting and end point of rea son, knowledge, ethics, and aesthetics, the task of theorizing tragic identification is thus crucial for its own self-constitution. Lessing's Hamburg Dramaturgy provides a particularly significant indication of the link between Aristotle's concept of catharsis, Les sing's own interpretation of Aristotle, which I treat as emblematic of all modern interpretations of catharsis, and Freud's concept of iden tification. In his extensive commentary on the Poetics, Lessing stresses th,ll tlw 1\risiPII'Ii,lll 11rtn (i'llr imparts a self reflex ive quality to the pity llr compassion with w hich Aristotle associates it. As contrasted with terror, which Lessing asserts is what we might feel for a misfor tune affecting another, Aristotle's notion of fear, he argues, arises from a sense of "the similarity of our position with that of the sufferer. It is the fear that the calamities impending over the sufferers


might also befall ourselves:'1 Fear causes us to refer the compassion we feel for the tragic character back to ourselves (179), thus putting ourselves in the position of the tragic character, and it is this self reflexive process that constitutes the core of Aristotelian catharsis, according to Lessing. As I have already suggested, even if Lessing does not use the term identification itself, a process closely related to what Freud will later explicitly call identification is implicit in his discussion of catharsis. In The Interpretation of Dreams, when Freud formally introduces the term identification, his definition clearly echoes Lessing's commentary of Aristotle. In a spirit similar to that in which Lessing distinguishes ter ror from fear, Freud distinguishes simple imitation, based on a con scious reproduction of the behavior and feelings of another, from an assimilation that would be based on a much deeper, unconsciously created or perceived resemblance. Using the dream of one of his young patients as an example, Freud argues that as a result of just such an unconscious assimilation, she had "put herself in [the] place" of another, "or, as we might say, . . . she had 'identified' her self" with another. 2 The poetics of tragedy, whether of Aristotle or of later theoreticians and writers, and psychoanalysis are not the only two fields in which identification holds a prominent place, however. Though the term itself is not used by either Kant or Hegel any more than it is by Lessing, I argue that the concept and process of identification play as important a role in their philosophies as in his commentary on Aristotle. In the case of Kant, a primary process of identification is the implicit ground of aesthetic judgment in particular, because the "demand for universality, " which is an inherent feature of all aes thetic judgments according to Kant, presupposes that in making such judgments the subject will be able to free itself from "the limitations that contingently affect [its] own estimate" and to put itself "in the position of everyone else."3 In the case of Hegel too, identification emerges as a process central to - if not identical with- the dialectic itself. Hegelian philosophy is based on a series of identifications through which the subject forms ties with the object and, (..-ven more, comes to be confounded with the object, thus putting itself in the place of the other, only to find and reaffirm itself once again, at the higher level of self-consciousness achieved at the end of the dialecti cal process. The central role played by what I call a process of iden-

tification in Hegelian and Kantian philosophy as well as in tragedy is thus an important part of what links them to each other and to psy choanalysis. It is also the locus of many of the principal and most fun damental conflicts between them. I thus read Freud's predecessors from a perspective that is indebted to his work. But this does not mean that Freud is necessarily of more assistance than they are in revealing the deeply problematic nature of identification. As I also argue, a critical investigation of the interpreta tion of tragedy offers the occasion for an exploration of the ambigu ous character of identification long before Freud uses the term explicitly. In the terms of Aristotle's Poetics, that ambiguous character can be seen in the strange fusion that tragic identification effects between pity and fear. It is with respect to tragedy, in particular, that something negative or painful emerges as central to identification, or at least to certain forms of it, something that corresponds to the neg ative character of tragedy itself- in the simplest terms, to the suffer ing of the tragic character or characters. To put this point in more modern language, one could say that it is in relation to tragedy that an ambivalence is revealed as central not only to the emotions of the spectator of tragedy, but also perhaps to all cases of identification. As I argue in my readings of Kant, Freud, Racine, and Diderot, in particular, this ambivalence, this mixture of the diametric ally opposed feelings of pleasure and pain, has the effect of radically problematizing the pleasure associated with art in general and thus greatly complicates the philosophical task of producing a unified the ory of art. Equally important, the identity of the subject is seriously dis rupted by the conflict between pleasure and pain, by the ambivalent character of (tragic) identification. Tragedy, in other words, confronts philosophy and psychoanalysis with the possibility that the process of identification is at bottom radically disruptive of identity. Thus it is also disruptive of any dialectic that tries to make identification an instru ment with which to confirm the identity of art, of an individual sub ject, or of philosophy and psychoanalysis themselves. Philosophy and psychoanalysis are linked not only by the dialectic and the corresponding theory of identification that in each case un derlies their interest in tragedy, however. They are also linked inas much as a theory of the difference between the sexes dominates the interpretation each gives of tragedy. For both Hegel and Freud, the conflict at the basis of the tragedy which each takes to be exemplary


of tragedy as a whole is a more or less direct consequence of the differ ences between the sexes. As a result, the dialectic must overcome not only tragedy, but also the sexual difference that, for both psychoanal ysis and speculative philosophy, is fundamental to tragedy. Psycho analysis and speculative philosophy thus confront the problem of sexual difference in much the same dialectical manner in which they confront tragedy. In the case of the difference between the sexes, the dialectic is also interrupted, however, and, once again, not by something radically other-in this case, by a form of (feminine) sexuality that could be absolutely opposed to the dominant (masculine) form of sexuality. As I argue in my readings of Hegel's interpretation of Antigone, Freud's interpretations of Hamlet, and also through readings of Corneille's Horace, Racine's Iphigenie, Prevost's Manon Lescaut, and Beaumar chais's Le Mariage de Figaro, it is interrupted instead by what could be called a "femininity" (or a "masculinity") common to both sexes. The difference between the sexes proves to be irreconcilable in much the same manner as the difference between theory and tragedy- not so much because of what distinguishes the two terms but more because of what the opposed terms have in common, which is defined by or contained in neither term alone. The interest of philosophy in the problem of tragedy is not exclusive to a specific period in the history of Western philosophy but is evident in many phases of its history. Nonetheless, I have chosen to analyze the dialectic of philosophy and tragedy in the terms of a modern ver sion of it because of the way modern speculative philosophy, as exem plified by Hegel, makes that dialectic explicit. It is precisely because of the dialectical - or, in other words, self-conscious - nature of the con frontation between philosophy and tragedy in the work of Hegel that the interruption of the Hegelian version of this dialectic is particularly significant. In contrast to the philosophy of Plato, in which the tragic and epic poets are banished from the city ruled by philosophy, or even to the philosophy of Aristotle, in which tragic poetics appears as one branch among others of philosophy, Hegelian philosophy embraces tragedy and openly acknowledges its own tragic roots. That tragedy should nonetheless in some sense resist Hegel's interpretation, that the dialectic should nonetheless stall, can mean only that philosophy itself is interrupted by tragedy: philosophy itself is divided from itself by its relation to the tragic other with which it so readily identifies.

This view of philosophy places it in a different light from the one in which it presents itself, and in this sense it is a critical view, one that undercuts certain of the claims made by philosophy on its own behalf. But though critical, this perspective is not simply negative, because it also makes it possible to grasp the dynamic or even drama tic character of philosophy and, in this sense, to see its lack of abso lute autonomy, universality, and objectivity as precisely what in many cases is the source of its critical force. The reasons I have chosen to treat the problem of tragedy to such an important extent in terms of the work of French dramatists and writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are closely re lated to those that prompt me to focus on Hegelian philosophy. Despite their diversity, the works of each of the literary figures I ana lyze can be interpreted in the light of an attempt to create a modern form of tragedy or to surpass tragedy by instituting a modern genre that would not be simply tragic, a form or genre that, like Hegelian philosophy, would go beyond the ancient tragic models that each implicitly or explicitly designates for itself. Like Hegelian philosophy, these modern tragedies seek to negate, retain, and raise ancient trag edy to a higher, that is, truly modern level. It is because of the philo sophical nature of their ambition that the judgment that philosophy and criticism make of these works is especially revealing. Because its own aim of surpassing ancient tragedy is exemplified in the works of the neoclassical French literary texts I treat in this book, it would seem natural for speculative philosophy to embrace them as an expression of its own truth. In fact, however, the reverse is more often true. For reasons that vary somewhat in each case, Hegelian phi losophy refuses to recognize itself in the work of the modern French tragedians. Hegel's own refusal echoes that of Lessing and A. W. Schlegel, among others, and it is in turn echoed in works such as Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, Benjamin's Origin of German Tragic Drama, or Erich Auerbach's Mimesis. Hegel's lack of sympathy for the French, however, cannot be explained in terms of a vulgar nationalism-that is, a lack of apprecia tion for anything that is not German or that does not conform to what is, not just for Hegel but for German philosophy and criticism as a whole, the work of the supreme modern tragic dramatist, Shake speare. As I argue in my reading of the passages from Hegel's Aesthe tics in which he criticizes Corneille and Racine, Hegel's relation to the


French should instead be understood as another instance of conflict based on identification: what opposes Hegel to the French is the mod ern ambition they share. The modern, self-conscious version of the dia lectic of philosophy and tragedy is thus perhaps disrupted less by ancient tragedy, which it considers to be the supreme form of art, than by modern tragedy, which it holds to be the Aufhebung (failed in some cases and successful in others) of ancient tragedy, an Aufhebung that doubles or mimes the one that speculative philosophy itself proposes. What is interrupted by modern (French) tragedy is not just the formal dialectical relationship between philosophy and tragedy, how ever, but also the theory of sexuality that grows out of the Hegelian and Freudian interpretation of tragic conflict. In each of the literary works I examine, sexuality is defined in and through conflict between the masculine and the feminine. But the conflict is in each case irrec oncilable not because the feminine is absolutely other than the mas culine, but because of what they share. For different reasons, Cor neille's Camille, Racine's Eriphile, Prevost's Manon Lescaut, and the heroines of Beaumarchais's Le Mariage de Figaro all exemplify the crit ical force of an alterity that is not simply other, that is, the contrary of the same, but rather an alterity that affects and displaces the same and the identical from within. In chapter 1, I discuss the work of three modern thinkers, each of whom uses an interpretation of tragedy to criticize traditional philos ophy and aesthetics: Nietzsche, Benjamin, and Freud. I argue that the force of the critical strategy of each stems from the way he is able to identify in tragedy elements that can be opposed to traditional phi losophy and aesthetics in order to overturn both. But I also argue that the limitations of their critical strategies are evident in that each priv ileges one form or model of tragedy-whether the Dionysian in the case of Nietzsche, the Oedipal in the case of Freud, or the baroque Trauerspiel in the case of Benjamin-over all others and thus seeks to give tragedy an identity. By doing this, each in effect constructs a trag edy that is the absolute other of philosophy and thus also proposes a new dialectic of tragedy and philosophy- a tragico-centric dialectic in which tragedy itself is endowed with the absolute character to which philosophy previously laid claim. Chapter 2 analyzes the uneasy relations between philosophy and tragedy through a reading of Hegel that focuses on his interpretation of the philosophy of Kant and also of what for him is the exemplary

tragedy, Sophocles' Antigone. From Hegel's perspective, Kant's work embodies a radical conflict between the transcendental and the real, the universal and the particular, the ethical and the practical, and . fmally between the aesthetic and the rational. Hegel thus turns to Antigone because, according to his interpretation of the play, it por trays a similar conflict manifest in the life of the "ethical community." This community is at the heart of Hegel's interpretation of tragedy because it serves as the context for the unfolding of the tragic drama but also because it provides a sense of how and in what terms such conflict can be resolved. In this manner, Antigone emerges as the embodiment of Hegelian philosophy and more specifically of its ability to reconcile conflict, whether of an ethical, aesthetic, or rational-philosophical nature. But as I also argue, Hegel's interpretation of Antigone reveals a conflict at the heart of the Hegelian dialectic itself, between, on the one hand, the need to absolutize conflict in order that its reconciliation be pure and total and, on the. other, a need to limit conflict by subordinating one term of the conflict to the other, in order to assure that the conflict not become permanent and irresolvable. In terms of his interpretation of Antigone, Hegel is caught between a need to stress the equally eth ical nature of Antigone and Creon, and hence the radical nature of the contradiction that their conflict introduces into the ethical commu nity, and the need to subordinate the figure of Antigone by qualifying her relationship to the ethical as intuitive and natural. Hegel's interpretation of Antigone is designed to overcome a conflict that, in the terms of Kant's philosophy, appears to be inherent in eth ics, art, and reason itself. But it is also intended to overcome the ambivalence of the Kantian version of identification, that is, the deeply problematic nature of the process through which the Kantian subject puts itself in the place of the other. Through a discussion of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and his Critique of Judgement, I argue that, in his tragic version of identification, the subject can never be sure it knows the other (or the self), and in this sense identification appears to be based not on a common identity, but on something held in cop:tmon prior to any sense of self. The Kantian dialectic of iden tification, insofar as one could say there is such a thing, is interrupted by the lack of identity of either party in it, and thus no third term can emerge from this dialectic that could be the synthesis- and the com pletion- of the other two.


In chapter 3, I analyze the way Hegel confronts tragedy once again, this time in its modern form. Through a discussion of his contrasting interpretations of the tragedies of Shakespeare and Corneille, I argue that Hegel's attitude toward modern tragedy is of necessity ambiva lent. This ambivalence is evident in Hegel's condemnation in Cor neille's tragedies of what he praises in those of Shakespeare - and, in particular, in Hamlet. The project of Corneille's plays, I argue, is as dia lectical as the one Hegel attributes to the plays of Shakespeare, as can be seen in the mediating function that Corneille, like Hegel, attributes to the modern tragic hero. And yet, like the Hegelian dialectic of mod ern tragedy, Corneille's dialectic of the hero, as exemplified in his Horace, is also interrupted when Horace is challenged by his sister, Camille. Her challenge reveals an irreconcilable conflict between the "law of the man'' and the '1aw of the woman, " one based not on a sim ple opposition but rather, once again, on what the two figures share. Given the fidelity with which Corneille's own project for modern trag edy prefigures Hegel's project for modern philosophy, the failure of Horace to reconcile these two figures, a failure that is both formal and conceptual, serves as an indication of the radically problematic nature not only of modern tragedy but of modern philosophy as well. Chapter 4 discusses both the importance of Freud's concept of trag edy for his theory of psychoanalysis and also the problematic nature of this concept, which stems from the conflicting implications of his interpretations of the two tragic works that are the most constant lit erary references of psychoanalysis: Oedipus and Hamlet. I argue that, from the perspective of psychoanalysis, as from the perspective of speculative philosophy, it is the modern tragedy- in Freud's case, Hamlet-which gives rise to the greater uneasiness and poses the greater theoretical challenge. That challenge is to theorize what in tra ditional terms is the problem of tragic guilt or what in Freud's own terms it would be more proper to call the (specifically modern) prob lem of repression -its origin and nature. What makes this challenge so serious emerges as Freud's examination of the problem of repres sion unfolds in the series of essays beginning with "Psychopathic Characters on the Stage" and culminating in Civilization and Its Discon tents. Freud cannot find an origin for repression without acknowledg ing the primacy of a certain displeasure that his own economic theory of the psyche, centered on his interpretation of Oedipus, never effec tively accounts for, even when he abandons pleasure as the unifying





principle of that economy. The result is that Hamlet, despite Freud's attempts to interpret it as another Oedipus, comes to appear as exem plary of a (modern) version of the psyche which diverges significantly from the Oedipal version because its principle is not pleasure or even stability but rather displeasure or uneasiness. The primary nature of displeasure, which is being indicated in Freud's reading of Hamlet and also in the texts that relate to that read ing, is, I argue, even more apparent in Racine's Iphigenie. I thus con front Freud's analysis of the origins of repression with an interpretation of this play and of the character of Eriphile in particular, in order to show the implications of the primary nature of (tragic) displeasure in relation both to Racine's universe and to psychoanalysis. Eriphile is considered in this interpretation not only as a female Hamlet but, more important, as a character whose complex femininity holds the key to the problem of the origin of displeasure. In Racine's play it is precisely Eriphile's feminine sense of guilt that serves as the model for tragic guilt itself. Iphigenie thus indicates that, just as displeasure cannot be reduced to a form or forerunner of pleasure, so the feminine cannot be seen simply as a form or figure of the Oedipal and the masculine - any more than tragedy itself can be seen as the mere prefiguration of a psy choanalysis based on a single, Oedipal form of tragedy. Chapter 5 discusses the dialectic through which Erich Auerbach's narrative of the history of Western literature finds its literary culmina tion in nineteenth-century realism and its literary-critical culmination in historicism. Like the dialectics of speculative philosophy and of psychoanalysis, this dialectic too is interrupted when it confronts a work that I argue should be understood as a modern French tragedy Prevost's Manon Lescaut. Auerbach's condemnation of this novel con travenes a central thesis of realism - that all literature represents real ity, even if the literature of each period does this in varying manners and according to differing literary conventions. Nonetheless, that con demnation is absolutely necessary when one looks beneath the ran dom character that Auerbach attributes not only to the real but to his own history of realism to find the ethico-aesthetic values informing his narrative and driving it toward its culmination in nineteenth-cen tury realism and historicism. While Auerbach explicitly incorporates certain aspects of tragedy what he calls tragic seriousness- into his concept of realism, in his interpretation of Manon Lescaut another aspect of tragedy emerges as

the antithesis of the real. Auerbach 's theory of literary realism rests on a refusal or a failure to entertain the possibility of there being a pro found link between the sexual and the tragic. His discussion of Manon Lescaut is thus less an interpretation of the novel than a jus tification of the reasons why he chooses to exclude it from realism (and thus from history). He does so because, by associating the sex ual and the tragic, Manon Lescaut degrades the tragic, according to Auerbach, emptying it of what he considers to be its seriousness. In contrast to Auerbach, I argue that Manon Lescaut shows (or confirms) not only that sexual conflict is fundamental to tragedy, but also that sexuality- even or perhaps especially the sexuality of Manon, because it has ethical significance or tragic seriousness - cannot be simply eliminated from the real or its (historicist) history. It is precisely because of this ethical or tragic significance that the sexuality of Manon, like Manon Lescaut itself, can be said to interrupt the dialectic of realism from within. As I have indicated, the problem of identification is virtually as cen tral to this book as the problem of tragedy itself, given its funamen tal and contradictory role in the theory of tragedy. In chapter 6, which focuses on Hegel's reading of Diderot's Le Neveu de Rameau in the Phe nomenology of Spirit, I argue that the special privilege Hegel accords to Diderot's text, the special fascination it holds for him, lies in the way it personifies or exemplifies a particularly radical, all-encompassing form of identification in the figure of Rameau's nephew. The specular basis of Hegel's interest in Diderot's text is clear: as a figure who has already occupied all positions that are apparently opposed to his own, the Nephew is also a figure for the dialectic itself, in its identification with - and ultimately its transcendence of- all forms of alterity. ' Hegel's interest in this text relates not only to his concern with mod ern French history and culture, but also to his interpretation of trag edy and more particularly of catharsis. In a manner that recalls Les sing, Hegel sees Aristotelian catharsis not just as feeling or emotion but as a manner of understanding involving a process that confounds or identifies self and other. His interpretation of Le Neveu is thus indic ative of the link that exists from his standpoint between this modern text, on the one hand, and ancient as well as modern tragedy, on the other. The central place and character that the Phenomenology of Spirit assigns to Rameau's nephew corresponds to speculative philosophy's own "absolutization'' of the tragic- and philosophical- process of

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identification. At the same time, speculative philosophy itself, insofar as it is both a practice and self-conscious theory of identification, emerges from Hegel's reading of Diderot's text as the heir and the cul mination of the tragic, and the Aufhebung as the philosophical- that is, the absolute and purely rational-version of catharsis. Hegel's reading of Le Neveu, however, ignores those elements of the text which place the perspective of the Nephew in an ironic light and deny him the central position in the text which Hegel claims for him. Correspondingly, it ignores the way the question of passion or feeling intrudes itself into a process of identification which in the terms of Diderot's text can be said to originate neither solely in reason nor in feel ing. There is indeed a dialectic of identification in Le Neveu, but it is an open or unfinished dialectic in which reason may well make use of pas sion for its own ends, but, just as likely, passion may make use of rea son for its ends. This uncertainty indicates that reason and passion, like art and philosophy, are not completely different, simple opposites, even if they are not completely identical either. It points to a fundamen tal ambiguity concerning the ends of identification, which Diderot's text, in spite of the force of Hegel's interpretation, does not resolve. In chapter 7, I turn once again to a philosophical interpretation of a text by Diderot, in this case, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe's reading of the Paradoxe sur le comedien. Lacoue-Labarthe's approach to Diderot's text is informed by a critical strategy in which art and identification play a key role, because for him they represent what he calls the . matrix of philosophy.4 That is, they represent something other than traditional philosophy, especially speculative philosophy, without it being possible to merely oppose them to - and thus turn them into another version or another confirmation of- speculative philosophy. For Lacoue-Labarthe, Diderot's text exemplifies the critical force of art and identification in relation to speculative philosophy, but it also betrays an attempt to submit them to a concept of the subject in which their paradoxes would find a resolution and their disruptive force would be contained. This interpretation of Diderot, I argue, rests on an implicit privileg ing of a generalized form of identification, exemplified in a purer form by the work of Holderlin, in contrast to another limited form of identification, exemplified by speculative philosophy and, in the end, by Diderot's text on acting. Through this distinction, Lacoue-Labarthe indirectly gives an essence to art, based on its affinity with the gener-

alized form of identification, and thus, despite his insistence on the speculative nature of art, in the last instance simply opposes it to phi losophy, particularly speculative philosophy. In this sense, Lacoue Labarthe's reading of Diderot can be said to represent an attempt to resolve an irreconcilable contradiction between philosophy and art irreconcilable because it sterns from what they have in common- and in the process to betray his own interpretation of the nature of their conflict. In chapter 8, I first address the problem of identification through a reading of texts by Freud which offer a psychoanalytic perspective on social theory and then compare Freud's theory of the social to Beau rnarchais's depiction and dramatization of identification in Le Manage de Figaro. My particular purpose in this chapter is to explore the polit ical and social implications of a problematical concept of identi fication such as emerges from a critical confrontation of theory and drama. I focus especially on the way Freud's theory of identification both is limited by and points beyond his views concerning the Oedipal basis of societies. My decision to confront Freud with Beaurnarchais's Figaro lies in part in the way this play, in which tragic elements are central and clearly discernible, confirms many of the social principles Freud draws from Oedipus . But it also sterns from the way Figaro situates the Oedipal in terms of a concept of identification which is the basis of the comic character of the play. As exemplified in the figure of Cherubin, the pro cess of identification, without being pre-Oedipal, nonetheless makes the significance of Oedipus fundamentally ambiguous. Like Freud's Oedipal model of society, it too points beyond the self as the basis for society, but unlike the Oedipal model its result is not to identify the social with any single male or paternal figure. It points to the feminin ity of all paternal figures, the masculinity of all maternal figures, and therefore, to the radically ambiguous-but for that very reason radi cally social -nature of the subject of identification. My discussion of the tragic involves the investigation of highly tech nical and abstract theoretical questions as well as readings of literary texts; it touches on philosophy, psychoanalysis, and social theory as well as literature and literary criticism. Even within the field of liter ature, it is not focused exclusively on the interpretation of works that belong narrowly to the tragic genre as such. This book does not, how ever, owe what might be called its multidisciplinary character to any


faith in the intrinsic desirability of interdisciplinary approaches to crit ical problems. Its perspective, which continually moves between the ory and literature, emerged rather as a necessary correlative of its complex and paradoxical tragic subject. As Gerard Genette ( disap provingly) remarks in his Introduction a liirchitexte (Paris: Seuil, 1979), as part of his commentary of Aristotle's Poetics, "there thus . . . exist elements of the tragic outside of tragedy" (24). Unlike Genette, I think this is one of the most critically important aspects both of tragedy and of theories and interpretations of it: that tragedy does not have a nat ural place as the object of any specific discipline. It is neither simply a literary genre or theme, nor an outlook, nor a dramatic spectacle involving spectators, actors, and a script. A similar ambiguity is characteristic of attempts to deal with iden tification, as is evident in the debates over its importance in relation to tragic poetics. The question of whether identification is an aes thetic or purely psychological or social process is virtually as old as the Poetics, and if it has been debated so long and so inconclusively, it can only be that identification, like tragedy, is all of these things at the same time and never a process characteristic of or determined by one of them alone. The Interrupted Dialectic thus follows the thread connecting specula tive philosophy and psychoanalysis to tragedy and at the same time separating them from each other. Its chief critical purpose is to indi cate the limitations of these specific theoretical apparatuses and those theories and critical strategies or positions derived from them or, in the logic of the dialectic, diametrically opposed to them. I emphasize the way in which the tragic, as the privileged other of philosophy and psychoanalysis, interrupts and thus opens up their particular dialec tics from within. My purpose in doing so is not to argue that critical thinking should have nothing more to do with speculative philoso phy or psychoanalysis, that we have come (or should come) to the end of them, even in the way, for example, that Hegel proclaimed "the end of art." On the contrary, this book proposes that new critical life can be found in both dialectical philosophy and psychoanalysis by opening them up to a tragic other different from the one they explicitly model themselves after and claim to have mastered. And this is so only because this other tragic other is from its birth pro foundly philosophical and psychoanalytical, although not in a way that either philosophy or psychoanalysis determines.


The Identities of Tragedy: + Nietzsche, Benjamin, Freud

The idea that art, or certain interpretations of art, can provide critical perspectives on philosophy, social theory, and various historical empiricisms is by now familiar, even if it continues to be contested by many. A large and important current of contemporary criticism and theory is concerned with investigating basic philosophical assump tions from the standpoint of problems that have long been the focus of literary criticism and the philosophy of art . A list of these problems would include, for example, the role of figure and metaphor not just in poetic language .but in language in general; the role of imagirtation in thought; and the status of fictional objects in the world. There are numerous signs that those who see art as possessing a critical poten tial are increasingly interested in analyzing that potential in relation to political and social institutions. This current is powerful enough that even the work of many whose relationship to it is polemical shows unmistakable signs of having been influenced by it.1 Further more, those works that make use of perspectives provided by art or literature to question the assumptions of traditional philosophy, and in a growing number of cases history and social theory as well, hardly constitute a group or a "school." Their diversity and even opposition to one another are an additional sign of the potential critical power and significance of the problem of art, an indication of a promising critical agenda that continues to emerge as aesthetic concerns cease to be confmed exclusively to aesthetics in its traditional sense. For the contemporary thinkers and writers in whose work art is viewed as offering a perspective from which various empiricisms and also traditional philosophy can be viewed critically, Nietzsche, either implicitly or explicitly, is a crucial figure. His work as a whole pro vides a model of the way in which the question of art can play a role in undermining philosophy, or at least a philosophy characterized by its confidence in thought and science and their ability to "penetrate the deepest abysses of being."2 Through his interpretation of art




and more specifically, of tragedy, Nietzsche's work throws into relief those elements in art that can be regarded as the most problematic from the standpoint of his principal target in The Birth of Tragedy: the philosophical-aesthetic tradition he claims originates in "Socratic optimism." Tragedy is at the center of Nietzsche's conception of art, and the crit ical force of art is synonymous with what he argues is the dynamic core of tragedy. If "the problem of science cannot be recognized in the context of science" (18), Nietzsche implies that it can be recognized in the context of something radically alien to science: a Dionysian tragic art, from the perspective of which the cornerstones of (Socratic) philosophy- the self, logic, knowledge, and morality- appear no longer as firm foundations, but rather as a constantly shifting and sub siding substratum. "We may recognize in Socrates the opponent of Dionysus" (86), and in the terms of The Birth of Tragedy this means that we may recognize in (Dionysian) tragedy the opponent of and the most efficacious weapon in the struggle against (Socratic/Platonic) philosophy. Nietzsche's critique of traditional philosophy also entails a critique and rejection of a traditional form of tragedy and, more speci6cally. of a traditional form of tragic identification. His interpretation of iden tifzcation emerges in his discussion of the tragedies of Euripides, whom he considers to be the poetic alter ego of Socrates. Though he does not explicitly employ the term identification, Nietzsche's com ments on Euripides provide a sense of his own interpretation of the process associated by Aristotle with tragic catharsis and later with what Freud explicitly terms identification. Nietzsche is contemptuous of the realism of Euripides because its aim is, in his words, to bring "the spectator onto the stage" in all his "civic mediocrity" (77). What I would call Euripidean identification puts the spectator in the place of the other, but the place of the other is in reality the place of the self the mediocre, moralistic, civic self. Instead of elevating the spectator to the level of art, Euripidean identification drags art down to the level of the self. Nietzsche appears to include the Aristotelian notion of catharsis in his critique of Euripidean identification when he says that those for whom the feelings of pity and terror are "the effect of tragedy . . . have had no experience of tragedy as a supreme art" (132). These feelings, he argues, ought to be treated as "medical or moral phenomena, " and the triumph of an aesthetic in which they

figure prominently is one more sign that authentic, Dionysian trag edy is dead. At first glance, the process that Nietzsche opposes to Euripidean identification might appear to have nothing in common with it. Instead of a confirmation of self, the Dionysian form of tragedy involves a loss of self. For example, Nietzsche argues that in the Dion ysian festivals in which tragedy originated, there was "no opposition between public and chorus" (62), with the result that audience, hero, and chorus all merged into a single, "great sublime chorus" (62) . Instead of putting the spectator in the place of the other, Dionysian tragedy dissolves the distinction between self and other and thereby seemingly destroys the possibility of identification. Moreover, what makes the Dionysian festivals and even, at least implicitly, the trage dies of Aeschylus and Sophocles different from the tragedies of Eurip ides, in Nietzsche's view, is that in them the experience of tragedy is disorienting and even painful (65), and its result is the surrender (64) of individuality. Despite all this, Dionysian tragedy still involves a form or variant of Euripidean identification, because while the individual subject is rad ically negated by the tragic experience, another subject can be seen to emerge from its destruction. Nietzsche's term for that other subject is the lyric "I" of the Dionysian poet, and true subjectivity belongs to him rather than the Euripidean subject: "The images of the lyrist are nothing but his very self: . . of course, this self is not the same as that of the waking, empirically real man, but the only truly existent and eter nal self resting at the basis of things, through whose images the lyric genius sees this very basis" (5o). Behind and beneath the Euripidean ego lies an "eternal self, " a self that is implicitly the focus of another, deeper process of identification in which subjectivity is produced and confirmed-not the subjectivity of the mediocre citizen, but a lyric sub jectivity that belongs to no particular individual. In terms of the Dion ysian festival, the lyric subject is revealed only when the ego is surrendered. It takes the form of a "great sublime chorus of dancing and singing satyrs or of those who permit themselves to be repre sented by such satyrs" (62). If there is now "no opposition between public and chorus, " there is still a process of identification similar in a crucial respect to the one Nietzsche associates with Euripidean trag edy, inasmuch as the process of fusion of the audience, chorus, and tragic hero produces and confirms a (higher form of the) subject.


Nietzsche's use of an interpretation of tragedy as the framework within which to criticize traditional philosophy and even traditional art is of course not unique. Walter Benjamin's Origin of Gennan Tragic Drama3 represents another instance in which an interpretation of trag edy-though significantly different from that of Nietzsche - has simi larly critical implications. While at first glance this work might appear to be only a narrow, scholarly monograph on a previously neglected period in the history of German drama, in reality it elaborates the the ory of a specifically modern version of tragedy through which Benja min in effect breaks with- or at any rate reinterprets -traditional concepts of art and philosophy. Freud's psychoanalytic theory offers another major instance in which many of the presuppositions of tra ditional philosophy and theory are put into question through an inter pretation of tragedy. Like Nietzsche, Freud too finds a logic or reason in tragedy in relation to which the reason of traditional philosophy and theory appears limited and superficial. Freud's psychoanalytic theory is also like Nietzsche's interpretation of tragedy in giving a cen tral place to identification, labeled as such by Freud, in its description of the tragic unconscious. In the context of Freud's work, as in the con text of Nietzsche's, the form of identification associated with tragedy is complex and highly problematical, and for that reason, I would argue, it has the greatest critical potential for undermining the vari ous concepts of the subject and the traditions that support them. , The Birth of Tragedy offers a model in terms of which the critical nature of the projects of Benjamin and Freud can be understood. But it also exemplifies a tendency that can be found in varying degrees in their work as well-the tendency to equate a single version or inter pretation of tragedy with an essence of tragedy, which becomes in turn essence pure and simple. It is because of this tendency to assign an absolute value to art and in particular to tragedy that Nietzsche's work has come to exemplify not only the critical force of art but also the danger of aestheticism- as it does already for Nietzsche himself when, in his 'Attempt at Self-Criticism, " he writes of the "artists' metaphysics in the background" of The Birth of Tragedy (18) . The idea forming the basis of this artists' metaphysics - that "exis tence and the world seem justified only as an aesthetic phenomenon" (141) - undoubtedly seems highly questionable to us, as it did already to him, not just for ethical or political reasons but for philosophical reasons as well; that is, because such an idea is ultimately every bit as


metaphysical as the Socratic optimism it opposes and strives to over turn. Nietzsche's description of tragedy reveals a heterogeneous entity, divided among conflicting tendencies -the Dionysian, the Apollinian, and the Socratic-Euripidean- and the metaphysical char acter of his interpretation of tragedy is evident in his decision to sep arate out the Dionysian element and privilege it as the absolute form or version of tragedy. Nietzsche overturns absolute reason only to replace it with something that in the end seems to resemble it very closely- an absolute (form of) tragedy, which comprehends all other forms of tragic art (and philosophy) within itself. The tendency to privilege one form or version of tragedy at the expense of others can .also be discerned in the work of Benjamin and Freud as well as Nietzsche. It should be stressed that in no case is it totally uniform or consistent in its effects, and in no case does it wholly negate the critical implications of their interpretation of trag edy. Reading these figures together makes it possible not only to assess the effects produced by such a tendency but also to question the interpretation of tragedy of each in terms of the interpretation of tragedy of the others. It thus provides a picture of the complex, inde terminate nature of tragedy, and in the case of Nietzsche and Freud, of identification as well. It confirms that tragedy is not an essence, that there is no single version or form of it that subsumes all other forms or interpretations, but rather that the term tragedy designates a problem, a point of both intersection and divergence among major philosophical, aesthetic, and social theories. The dogmatic tendency to assign an essence to tragedy has numer ous effects in The Birth of Tragedy. One of the most important is to oppose art to philosophy, to see them as radically different and con trary entities, each with its own sphere or stage. This is the conse quence of Nietzsche's decision, at least at the most polemical moments of The Birth of Tragedy, to identify tragedy with what he calls the Dionysian. He writes that with the appearance of Socrates, Dion ysus is "scared from the tragic stage" (82), and as a result tragedy itself dies, the victim of a suicide that is the "consequence of an irrec oncilable conflict" between tragedy and philosophy (76). Similarly, when he argues that, in his plays, Euripides "conscientiously repro duces even the botched outlines of nature" and thus provides the cit izen of Athens with a mirror in which he can recognize himself in all his "civic mediocrity" (77), Nietzsche indicates that Euripides has



chosen to place at the center of his aesthetic universe a subject that is the antithesis of the Dionysian "I" who gives voice to its pain and joy in the Dionysian festival. Of course the tendency to portray the Dionysian and the Socratic as absolute contraries is not uniform in The Birth of Tragedy. Nietzsche himself clearly indicates an important exception when he speaks of Plato, who, despite being a disciple of Socrates, "was nevertheless constrained by sheer artistic necessity to create an art form [the dia logue] that was related to those older forms of art he repudiated" (9o) . And Nietzsche feels impelled to ask at one point "whether there is necessarily only an antipodal relation between Socratism and art, and whether the birth of an 'artistic Socrates' is altogether a contradic tion in terms" (92). The ambiguous status of the Apollinian offers an additional indica tion that tragedy and philosophy are not always simply opposed in The Birth of Tragedy. At times Nietzsche stresses the fundamental antagonism between the Dionysian and the Apollinian: the antago nism between the plastic and the musical, between appearance and Being. 4 But at other moments the affinity between them is high lighted, as when Euripides and Socrates enter onto the scene of Greek tragedy and banish from it riot only the Dionysian but the Apollinian as well.5 The same is true of the Apollinian in relation to the Socratic, insofar as Nietzsche treats both as the sources of "Greek cheerfulness, " which he presents as the more superficial level of Greek culture and art. In doing so, he acknowledges at least indi rectly that Euripides' ambition to create a tragedy that was at once Socratic and Apollinian (without being at the same time Dionysian) was not totally incoherent. The fuzziness of the character of the Apol linian, whose affinities seem at times to lie with the Socratic and at other times with the Dionysian, thus also implicitly serves to blur the boundary between the Socratic and the Dionysian themselves.6 Nonetheless, The Birth of Tragedy and the life and death of tragedy it recounts are not framed in terms of such questions. Nietzsche's "artists' metaphysics" manifests itself most spectacularly in his digres sion on music. Here he claims that "language can never adequately render the cosmic symbolism of music, because music stands in sym bolic relation to the primordial contradiction and primordial pain in the heart of the primal unity, and therefore symbolizes a sphere which is beyond and prior to all phenomena" (Birth of Tragedy, 55) . But

it is also apparent throughout his discussion of the Socratic, the Dion ysian, and the Apollinian and, in particular, in his equation of trag edy with its musical, Dionysian element. A metaphysics of art is especially evident in the assertion that "optimistic dialectic drives music out of tragedy with the scourge of its syllogisms; that is, it destroys the essence of tragedy, which can be interpreted only as a manifestation and projection into images of Dionysian states" (92) . Some might argue that the force of Nietzsche's critique depends on the radically other character he ascribes to art in relation to philoso phy.7 In fact, however, the reverse is true. The moments where Dion ysus appears as the absolute opposite of Socrates are the weakest in The Birth of Tragedy because they mark the points at which Nietzsche's aestheticist dogmatism is greatest. It is as if he had attempted to write a "trgedy of tragedy" in The B irth of Tragedy by highlighting the conflict between Socrates and Dionysus. But the Nietzschean tragedy does not depict a tragic conflict in which, as Hegel puts it, "each of the opposed sides . . . has justification,"8 nor does it stress the com plex mediating links that exist between Socrates and Dionysus thanks to the intermediate figures of Euripides and Apollo. Instead, it in fact becomes a melodrama, in which Dionysus succumbs for reasons that are wholly external to his character and actions. In those moments when Dionysus and Socrates are most diametrically opposed, Nietz sche reaches what is, from the standpoint of the more subtle and complex links he elsewhere describes as existing between art and phi losophy, an arbitrary conclusion concerning the nature of both trag edy and philosophy. Far more forceful are the passages in The Birth of Tragedy where Nietzsche indicates the complexity of the link between art and philosophy (as when he speaks of a Plato compelled to invent _ another art form). In those passages his ultimately unsustainable still assertions concerning the essence of both (Dionysian) tragedy and (Socratic) philosophy are set aside, without the critical effects of his juxtaposition of them being lessened . Walter Benjamin's Origin of German Tragic Drama must also be con siderd an iportant reference for any discussion of modern tragedy, especially giVen the way it combines an interest in the problem of modern tragedy with an implicit rejection of both the "artists' meta ?hysics" of the type found in The B irth of Tragedy and the correspond mg tendency to ascribe an essence to tragedy and to art generally. Though Benjamin never mentions Nietzsche, his text can nonetheless


be seen as an attempt to carry out major aspects of Nietzsche's critical agenda with respect to art, while at the same time overcoming or at least avoiding many of the pitfalls of Nietzsche's aestheticism. Benjamin's differences with Nietzsche emerge almost immediately in his choice of subject and in his manner of defining it. For Benja min, German baroque drama, or the Trauerspiel, is distinguished from classical (and presumably from neoclassical drama as well) be cause of its preeminently historical themes and character, and he holds the distinction to be much more than the indication of a rela tively superficial transformation in the tragic genre. Instead, the his torical nature of the Trauerspiel signifies a profound reformulation of the notion of the tragic and the emergence of a specifically modern form of tragedy or art, one that points beyond the various models of art - including the Romantic model - still indebted in one form or another to classicism and hence to ancient tragic models. The effect of Benjamin's argument, when contrasted with that of Nietzsche, is to open up the question of the essence of tragedy by indicating the exis tence of another, modern version, one radically different from classi cal tragedy but with an equally legitimate claim to represent tragedy as a whole. Inasmuch as baroque drama comes to stand for modern art itself in the course of Benjamin's discussion, The Origin of Gennan Tragic Drama can be considered a defense and illustration of the importance of modernity for our understanding of art as a whole. Moreover, Ben jamin's discussion of what for him is this quintessentially modern art points beyond The Birth of Tragedy precisely because the notion of the Trauerspiel points beyond beauty, and for Benjamin this means it points beyond art itself. This aspect of the Trauerspiel is also evident in Benjamin's discussion of what distinguishes the baroque from clas sicism, that is, both ancient and neoclassical tragedy. He argues that whereas classicism "was not permitted to behold the lack of freedom, the imperfection, the collapse of the physical, beautiful, nature" (Ori gin of Gennan Tragic Drama, 176), b aroque drama, thanks to its histor ical nature, presents us with a historical process that "does not assume the form of the process of an eternal life so much as that of irresistible decay" (178) . The allegorical mode of baroque drama corre sponds to its deeply historical and modern character. Like history and modernity, allegory also points beyond nature and hence beyond beauty, because it is characterized by ambiguity, multiplicity, and an


uneconomical extravagance of meaning and is thus no longer bound by the law of beauty, which is a law of economy and simplicity (177) . Unlike Nietzsche, who defends the importance of the most ancient forms of Greek tragedy because for him they best exemplify art itself, Benjamin focuses on this modern form of tragedy because of its unaesthetic or extra-aesthetic quality. The Origin of Gennan Tragic Drama remains a Nietzschean work, how ever, despite its attempt to rethink the relations among art, history, and philosophy, and despite its attempt to rethink art in terms of modernity itself. For even though Benjamin emphasizes the negative forces at work within history and the discontinuous nature of history which results from those forces, history- and hence modern art - is no less metaphysical for him than Dionysian tragedy is for Nietzsche. Just as Nietzsche presents the Dionysian version of tragedy as the fullest embodiment of the nature or essence of tragedy, so in the end the Trauerspiel comes to signify not so much the existence of another possi ble version or interpretation of art as the true nature of art, a nature that for Benjamin is now intrinsically historical and dialectical but remains a nature nonetheless in the sense that ft is universal: "The object of philosophical criticism is to show that the function of artistic form is as follows: to make historical content, such as provides the basis of every important work of art, into a philosophical truth" (182). In the final analysis, Benjamin's conception of modern art as exem plified in the Trauerspiel does not point beyond (classical) art (or beyond truth). Or at any rate, in pointing beyond them it points back to them, back to a historical conception of them which, according to Benjamin, it is and always has been the object of philosophical criti cism to reveal. Philosophical criticism is the specific form of criticism that complements the true nature of (modern) art. According to Ben jamin, it strips off the ephemeral beauty of the work of art but in the process reawakens a deeper beauty that is "more than empty dream ing" (182). This reawakening of beauty is a reawakening of art itself, of an art whose essence now lies in its historical rather than beautiful nature. Benjamin's theory of German baroque drama thus represents an important antidote to Nietzsche's metaphysics of art and tragedy. But it also exemplifies a metaphysical tendency of its own, because Benjamin's conceptions of allegory, history, and modernity constitute a new form of beauty that is "more than empty dreaming" and thus a new essence of art .



The metaphysical nature of Benjamin's conceptions of history, modernity, and allegory is not the only problematic aspect of his inter pretation of the Trauerspiel, however. Another lies in the ethical theoretical decision defining the limits of the corpus that forms the basis of his discussion of baroque drama. Like Hegel and a number of Hegel's immediate predecessors and contemporaries, Benjamin is concerned in The Origin of Gennan Tragic Drama with defining a Ger man aesthetic, albeit one not exemplified uniquely by German authors. Benjamin's approach to this project is somewhat different from most of those who came before him. In their case, the aim is not to establish modem art as the sovereign opposite of classicism, as is the case with Benjamin. They seek, first of all, to distinguish between an authentic classical art-that of the Greeks - and an unauthentic classical art- of the Latins (that is, principally of Rome and modem France). Second, their goal is to create a modem equivalent of the first classicism which would reveal what they hold to be the inferior nature of the second: Benjamin's study of the Trauerspiel breaks with the nostalgia of his predecessors in the sense that, in treating baroque drama as the exemplary .form of art, he is displacing both French neo classical art and ancient art from their preeminent positions. But where French neoclassicism is concerned, the parallel between Benjamin and many of his predecessors holds, nonetheless. In the case of Shakespeare and Calderon, for example, Benjamin reveals that he is willing to go beyond the confines of German literature and German history in order to define his object, German baroque drama, inasmuch as Hamlet is cited as a great example of the genre (136) and Calderon is considered a master of the drama of fate, that is, of baroque drama (133).9 But Benjamin's concept of the Trauerspiel and his corresponding concept of modem art-is not similarly ex tended to include any French dramatist. He never discusses or ana lyzes the work of Racine, Comeille, or any other French dramatist of the baroque period in The Origin of Gennan Tragic Drama, and this omission is entirely consistent with his attempt to refocus the ques tion of art and define modem art in terms of a field that is explicitly nonclassical but implicitly non-French. Of course, there is always a risk of unfairness in speaking of a given work in terms of what it does not do rather than in terms of what it actually does. Certainly if The Origin of Gennan Tragic Drama were the narrowly focused scholarly work it at certain moments appears to be,

it would be meaningless to raise the issue posed by the limitation Ben jamin imposes on his corpus. The exclusion of French neoclassicism, however, does take on significance, a transcendental significance, so to speak, inasmuch as The Origin of Gennan Tragic Drama is much more than a scholarly monograph: it is, rather, a philosophical critical investigation into the nature of art itself. Because of the way it equates (modem) art and the German, and because of the corre sponding tension it implies as a result between the non-German (that is, between the French neoclassical) and the German (that is, baroque drama), Benjamin's work should be seen as prolonging a tradition that includes Lessing, Hegel, and Nietzsche (to mention only those figures I shall treat in my own discussion of the problem) rather than breaking with it. Nietzsche's work, once again, both exemplifies this same type of limitation and offers a critical perspective on it. It is true that he is not directly concerned, as is Benjamin, with a German literary corpus Greek drama and the Greek Dionysian festivals define the tragic in The Birth of Tragedy. But because, for Nietzsche, the tragic is irretriev ably lost, the problem of gaining insight into its nature is virtually insurmountable. And according to Nietzsche, we would have no in sight into it at all were it not for a handful of German thinkers and artists who, if they have not fully penetrated "into the core of the Hel lenic nature, " have at least shown us a path leading to it.1 In this sense, Nietzsche's object in The Birth of Tragedy is not just the Greeks but, rather, the Greeks as they have been revealed to us by these figures who exemplify the German spirit. The privilege Nietzsche gives to the German is even more explicit in the notes and drafts that are contemporaneous with The Birth of Tragedy, where he not only writes of an affinity between but even assimilates the Greek and the tragic with the German: "We have the feeling that the birth of the [new] tragic age simply means a return to itself of the German spirit" (Sallis, Crossings, 136) . In another passage, Nietzsche depicts Germany as a "backward-stepping Greece: we have reached the period of the Persian wars" (136, n. 28) . At the same time, he assimilates French culture with the antitragic elements in Greece's history. A notebook entry from 1869 states that "Euripidean tragedy is, just like French tragedy, framed according to an abstract concept" (119, n. 7) . Freud's statement in Civilization and Its Discontents linking German



nationalism and anti-Semitism is certainly relevant to passages such as these.11 If the nationalist spirit of The Birth of Tragedy and its anti Romanism are perhaps less striking than in the above lines from Nietzsche's notes, the anti-Semitism Freud holds to be an inevitable correlate of extreme forms of German nationalism is in evidence. In section 9 of The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche contrasts the Aryan and the Semitic in terms of the manner in which each "community of peo ples" supposedly conceives of the origin of evil (7o) . In the case of the Aryan community, we see "their gift for the profoundly tragic" in the myth of Prometheus. Nietzsche holds Prometheus to be the Aryan myth par excellence because it confers dignity on sacrilege. This myth, he continues "contrasts strangely with the Semitic myth of the fall in which curiosity, mendacious deception, susceptibility to seduc tion, lust- in short a series of pre-eminently feminine affects was con sidered the origin of evil" (71). That the distinction Nietzsche makes here between the Aryan and the Semitic is not neutral is evident not only inasmuch as the tragic and the Aryan are being equated but also inasmuch as the Prometheus myth, unlike the Semitic myth of origi nal sin, does not constitute an attempt to "interpret away" the "mis fortune in the nature of things" (71). Just as in the 'Attempt at Self-Criticism" Nietzsche distances him self from the aestheticism of The Birth of Tragedy, so in the same text he distances himself, albeit in a more elliptical and hence ambiguous manner, from the related and analogous privilege given to the Ger man, as when he asserts in the opening lines that The Birth of Tragedy was written in spite of the Franco-Prussian War (17) . A later passage from Ecce Homo leaves no ambiguity as to Nietzsche's diametrically opposed, though perhaps equally disturbing attitude toward both the French and the German: "I believe only in French culture and con sider everything else in Europe today that calls itself 'culture' a misunderstanding- not to speak of German culture."12 Like Benja min in The Origin of German Tragic Drama, Nietzsche discusses neither French neoclassical tragedy nor French criticism as it relates to the tragic in The Birth of Tragedy. But in each case, an underlying tension between "the French" and "the German" colors the discussion and serves as one of its crucial and ultimately unexamined presupposi tions. As long as the question of the tragic can be posed in terms of a single, national corpus of literary works, or at any rate, a corpus that is homogeneous in terms that are derived from a national perspective

on art, then the theoretical identity of tragedy can be better assured and its diversity, complexity, and heterogeneity overlooked. At the risk of stating the obvious, it is important to stress that the tendency to define art in terms of a national identity is hardly unique to German critics and philosophers of art. Many of them frequently stress the importance of eliminating national biases from criticism, and they often criticize the French, especially but not only Corneille and Voltaire, on just these grounds. One has only to read one or two of Voltaire's most celebrated prefaces to his own tragedies to feel that, at least in certain instances, these critics and philosophers had ample justification for their view.13 The real issue, then, is not whether the French or the German (or any other national) perspective on art is "more national, " assuming for a minute that the issue is one of degree and that there can be a modern art and theory of art that is not national. The tendency to separate out the German and the French is problematic not just because it inevitably results in the elevation of the one at the expense of the other, but, more importantly, because it tends to obscure the common ground between the opposed terms used to delineate the problem of art by a Nietzsche, a Benjamin, or a Hegel. In Benjamin's terms, for example, it obscures the parallels and the affi.nities between (French) (neo)classicism and the (German) baroque. In Nietzsche's terms it obscures the affi.nities between the Euripidean and the Dionysian, between an authentic and an unau thentic art, between the tragic and the philosophical. And, as we shall see, in Hegel's terms, it obscures the way speculative philoso phy is prefigured in modern (French) tragedy. In focusing for the most part on French writers in relation to Ger man theorists and critics, my aim is not to reopen the Racine versus Shakespeare debate (a interpreted by A. W. Schlegel, Hegel, and others), although I hope to have shown the arbitrary nature of the cri teria in whose terms that debate was (and in many cases is still) framed. It has been, rather, to indicate some of the ways in which the national dimension of the theory of art is intertwined with its philo sophical and theoretical dimensions, and how at times it even be comes the dominant indicator of its metaphysical character. Because of the national dimension of the problem of art, I have used texts of French literature to provide a critical perspective on literary-philo sophical theories that in some way exemplify a tendency to suppose that a natural affi.nity exists between art and "the German."14 But this



is not to deny the existence of a French version of the phenomenon I have sought to analyze- quite the contrary. The texts of Corneille, Racine, Prevost, Beaumarchais, and Diderot certainly in no way escape from the problem posed by the contamination of nationalism and art, either by virtue of their literary nature or by virtue of being French. The national dimension of the theory of modern tragedy is just one example of the way it touches extra-aesthetic areas and takes on a polit ical and social meaning. In this respect too, Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy is instructive, inasmuch as it conveys a sense of the social dimension of the problem of tragedy- it is a critique of received social as well as aes thetic ideas. The contrast Nietzsche draws between a Dionysian and a Socratic (or Euripidean) version of art is paralleled by another contrast between a Dionysian version of the subject and a Socratic version, and it is through this second contrast that Nietzsche conveys the political and social implications of his critique of philosophy. For Nietzsche, soberness is a cornerstone of Socratic optimism, and the value Socratic philosophy attaches to sobriety and consciousness represents a reaction against the "drunken" or unconscious poets whom Nietzsche considers to be the authentic representatives of the Dionysian character of art. Nietzsche's critique of Socrates thus reacts in turn to the celebration of sobriety with a celebration of "the T of the lyrist [which] sounds from the depth of his being; [and whose] 'subjectivity, ' in the sense of modern aestheticians is a fiction" (Birth of Tragedy, 49) . When contrasted with the "I" of the lyrist, the self defined by Socratic philosophy appears superficial in every aspect aesthetic and theoretical, but also ethical and political. The Birth of Tragedy thus conveys a sense of the urgency of the question of art: the idea that the inertia of the tradition Nietzsche is criticizing, on the one hand, and the critical potential of art, on the other, are of concern from a social as well as a theoretical or aesthetic standpoint. From Nietzsche's perspective, Socratic optimism is not just a narrowly philosophical position but also a kind of ethico-theoretical infrastruc ture subtending culture, politics, and education and thus shaping the modern, posttragic individual. But in the most crucial respects, the political and social dimension of Nietzsche's critique of Socratic optimism has the same metaphysi cal character as his critique of its theoretical or philosophical dimen sion. Nietzsche's dialectic of art relates to politics and society as well

as theory-it negates, retains and raises politics to the level of abso lute art, that is, an art that comprehends not only philosophy but also politics "within" it. And just as Nietzsche identifies tragedy with what for him is its Dionysian core, so he identifies the essence of the political with the Dionysian festival, as is evident in his description of the prototragedies out of which the tragedies_ of Sophocles and Aes chylus evolved: "We must always keep in mind that the public at an Attic tragedy found itself in the chorus of the orchestra, and there was at bottom no opposition between public and chorus : everything is merely a great sublime chorus of dancing and singing satyrs or of those who permit themselves to be represented by such satyrs" (62). Located between the skene and the theatron, the orchestra is the place where all activity is subsumed as artistic activity, and "everything is merely a great sublime chorus" in which the citizen and the actor can no longer be distinguished. Its position at the heart of the larger tragic theater represents the central place of music in relation both to tragedy and to society as a whole. The orchestra is the space in which the Dionysian subject finds its true place; one in which the lyric "I" presents itself and finds itself immediately at one with the other spectators/actors who make up the sublime chorus. The critical implications of this description of the Dionysian festi vals in relation to the Socratic-Euripidean polis are clear. In the city as it is projected by the philosophy of Socrates, the mediocrity of each individual citizen-subject must of necessity correspond to the superfi ciality of the bond uniting him to the other citizens. Implicitly, what separates each citizen of the Socratic polis individually and the citi zenry collectively from the Dionysian tragic also separates them from one another by imprisoning each in a fictive individuality. It is in Nietzsche's description of the Dionysian festival that iden tification, or at least a particular version of identification, emerges as what immediately links the lyric subjects of the Dionysian chorus to gether- and hence as the social bond of the Dionysian collective. Unlike Aristotelian catharsis, Dionysian identification, as we have already seen, is not supposed to bring art down to the level of the civic mediocrity of the spectators. Instead, it supposedly raises the (Dionysian) spectators to the level of art by raising each of them above and beyond his individuality. In this Dionysian form, identification is a social process that immediately links together the Dionysian sub jects of Nietzsche's "aesthetocracy." In his description of the Dionysian



chorus, what could be called Nietzsche's aestheticizing of the political takes the form of an ultimate, total, and frenzied process of identifica tion in which all boundaries between individuals and between the aesthetic (the tragic) and the political are overcome. There are many points in terms of which Freud's interpretation of tragedy can be contrasted to that of Nietzsche, but one of the most important is its synthesis of the aesthetic and the political. Freud's psy choanalytic theory points beyond Nietzsche's aestheticized politics, even as it gives a central place to both the tragic and the process of iden tification, which Freud states is "known to psychoanalysis as the earli est expression of an emotional tie with another person:'15 What emerges in Freud's discussion of the relation between the individual and society is the model of a paradoxical process of identification (and a correspondingly complex sense of tragedy), one whose nature is problematic not only in relation to the superficial phenomenon of con sciousness but also from the standpoint of the unconscious as well. The implication of this Freudian model of identification as compared to the (implicit) Nietzschean one is that identification is never immediate or simply positive, even in relation to the unconscious or "lyric" sub ject. Unlike the Dionysian "I, " the core of the unconscious Freudian subject is fundamentally heterogeneous, and its relationship to itself and therefore others is fundamentally complex. Like The Birth of Tragedy, Freud's theory of the psyche reinterprets tragedy and in the process reveals the relative superficiality of tradi tional concepts of reason, logic, and science. Tragedy, in the form of the unconscious, is not just one object among others for reason; it is the foundation upon which reason-or the rational and the con scious - are erected. Though every aspect of Freud's analysis of the unconscious is related to his interpretation of tragedy, two processes in particular-identification and the related process through which the superego is constituted-indicate what is most problematic and at the same time most critical in Freud's interpretation of the tragic. These two processes deserve to be called tragic for two principal reasons. First, Freud's analysis of them is linked consistently with his interpretation of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Shakespeare's Hamlet, two plays that, as Jean Starobinski has argued, serve not only as exam ples for psychoanalysis but also as matrixes out of which psychoana lytic theory itself can be said to emerge.16 Second, the problems posed to psychoanalytic theory by identification, by the emergence of

the superego, and by the processes related to them are directly linked to what, borrowing from Freud, could be called the irreducibly mas ochistic dimension of identification. As I argue in chapter 4, the econ omy within whose framework Freud initially interprets dreams is not able to account for this dimension of identification, and his revisions of his theory can be seen as an attempt to elaborate a framework within which the trcigic-that is, the uneconomical or "originally" masochistic - character of identification can be theorized. Of course, the significance of Freud's work in relation to the theoret ical and political dimensions of identification and tragedy is not with out ambiguity. Freud can be seen as misrecognizing many of the most important implications of his interpretations of Oedipus Rex and Hamlet and as resolving by arbitrary means the various difficulties posed by the problem of identification for psychoanalytic theory. Several aspects of Freud's work reflect such misrecognition and reveal an attempt to integrate the tragic elements of the psyche (principally the superego, but also the process of identification, insofar as it serves as a proto superego) into an economic description by reducing and simplifying what he elsewhere indicates is their complex and even contradictory nature. I argue in chapter 4 that Freud's account of the "anatomical differences between the sexes" is one of the most spectacular in a series of attempts to contain the uneconomical tragic processes within a logic of economy. And as I show in chapter 8, another attempt is evident in Freud's insistence on understanding the process of identification from the perspective of the murder of the father of the primal horde and thus on (re)afti.rming the theoretical supremacy of Oedipus and of the economic principles that, he holds, it exemplifies. Through his discussion of the themes associated with the preemi nently modern figure of Hamlet (the themes of repression, melancho lia, primary narcissism, primary masochism, the emergence of the superego, and, above all, identification), Freud nonetheless breaks decisively with the Nietzsche of The Birth of Tragedy. First, Freud's exploration of these themes leads him at least implicitly to problema tize tragedy itself as a model for the unconscious. Oedipus Rex alone can no longer guide him as he explores the territory these problems open up. Hamlet now emerges as the figure of another model of tragedy, one that is linked to but at the same time cannot be wholly assimilated with Oedipus. Freud never totally renounces his view that his interpretation of Oedipus Rex is the cornerstone of psychoanalysis. However, the





increased importance taken on by the themes associated with Hamlet in his work undercuts the position of Oedipus Rex within the psycho analytic theory and signals the necessity of abandoning the project of comprehending the interpretation of art and theory within a concep tual framework derived from a single model of tragedy. Second, Freud's exploration of the themes that emerge in connec tion with the figure of Hamlet leads to the construction of what could be called a model of a modem psyche in which the tragic (or the unconscious) is not simply visited from without by the censoring agency but is instead involved in the censoring process as well. In the light cif this modem model of the psyche, it is no longer possible to oppose an unconscious subject to a conscious one, as Nietzsche seeks to do when he contrasts Dionysus and Socrates, and as Freud himself tends to do when he initially interprets the Oedipus myth in The Interpretation of Dreams . Because of the uneconomical nature of the tragic processes (repression, censorship, primary masochism, identification), the Freudian subject is even more radically split than the subject in whom we can purportedly distinguish an unconscious and a conscious self. The split can no longer be localized, it no longer divides the inside from the outside, the conscious from the uncon scious, the libidinal from the death drive, or the self from the other. Nor can the split in the Freudian subject be located between a core or central element and a peripheral or superficial one; instead, it is within and between each element, agency, or process. In this sense, Freud's interpretation of the unconscious is incompatible with Nie tzsche's interpretation of the subject in terms of a pure Dionysian ele ment or core. From the perspective of the more complex sense of the relation between the unconscious and the censoring agency that typifies the "modern" psyche in the work of Freud, Nietzsche's lyric "I" appears as an absolute, and therefore metaphysical, subject. This absolute sub ject has displaced the subject of reason but retains its essential quali ties of integrity and sovereignty and, in place of the self-reflexive knowledge of absolute reason, possesses a self-reflexive experience of the Dionysian essence of tragedy-of its own essence-in the form of the tragic celebration. The Freudian subject and the Nietzschean lyric "I" are alike in that neither ever knows itself. But they are unlike inas much as the Freudian subject also never grasps itself self-reflexively through the manifestations of the unconscious, whether they take the

form of acts, dreams, or works of (Dionysian) art. From the perspec tive of this radically divided, Freudian subject, it is possible to reverse Freud's famous dictum by saying that there is "no royal road to the unconscious" precisely because the unconscious is everywhere. The contrast between the complex nature of the Freudian subject and the still relatively simple, homogeneous character of the Diony sian "I" corresponds to a similar contrast between Freud's treatment of the theme of identification and the sense of identification implicit in Nietzsche's description of the Dionysian festival. At bottom, what is at issue for psychoanalysis in the discussion of identification is the question of how primary a phenomenon it is, and the answer given to this question also indicates how primary the social is in relation to the subject. Though Freud frequently appears to draw back from the implica tions of certain of his affirmations in relation to identification, those implications emerge clearly nonetheless. When he entertains the pos sibility of a primary masochism in his essay "The Economic Problem of Masochism, " he also in effect recognizes that it presupposes or implies an equally primary process of identification. For primary masochism is a form of aggression that the "not-yet-a-subject," not even an unconscious subject, directs against itself, thus putting itself in the place of the other by simultaneously defining the subject as other and same. As a result, identification must of necessity share in the primary- and complex-nature of this form of masochism. The tragic or masochistic character of identification is thus the aspect of it that points to its primary nature- and therefore, to the fundamental character of the split it creates in the subject through the very process by which the subject begins to be constituted . As exemplified in the "great sublime chorus, " in which the specta tors, chorus, and hero of Dionysian tragedy become one, Nietzschean identification confirms that the Dionysian subject itself is outside and prior to identifiCation and thus the ultimate source of all other psycho logical and social phenomena. The Freudian sense of the tragic char acter of identification, on the other hand, implies both a subject that, because it is already an other for itself, is fundamentally open and a correspondingly open and problematic sense of the social. Freud's theory of the unconscious is thus also a theory, if not of society, then of the inherent, fundamental, constitutive sociality of the subject, a sociality that is indicated by the primary- and ambigu-



ous - nature of identification. Just as identification is the social bond in Nietzsche's interpretation of tragedy, so for Freud it is also the social bond, implicitly so in his psychological essays and explicitly in the context of his essays on society. But from the perspective of the more complex sense of identification that emerges in Freud's discus sion of primary masochism, the bond linking the unconscious sub ject to other unconscious subjects in Nietzsche's description of the Dionysian chorus appears relatively superficial and simplistic. For it both precludes the idea that the other plays a role in relation to even the unconscious subject and also ignores the manner in which (un conscious) identification splits as well as unifies. Despite all that Freud and Nietzsche share, Freud's theory thus also offers a critical perspective on the social dimension and implica tions of The Birth of Tragedy. What opposes Freudian psychoanalysis to Nietzsche's interpretation of tragedy in this respect is not that the former offers an alternative theory of the subject, defined in terms that are purportedly better grounded in logic, reason, or experience. It is, rather, that many aspects of Freudian psychoanalysis can be seen as constituting a process of questioning of the subject, a constantly renewed effort to situate it in terms of deeper processes, which then become the objects of attempts to situate them in turn. It is perhaps above all through this process that Freud conveys a sense of the modernity of the psyche -that is, a sense that no subject is ever pre given but can only be a protosubject, a "subject" of identification. It is also through the constant revision of psychoanalytic theory that the identity of the tragic model guiding Freud in his elaboration of his theory of the unconscious is constantly put into question. Just as the unconscious, according to Freud, is characterized by a fusion of antithetical drives, so the idea of tragedy that emerges from his work is one in which two- in many respects antithetical - models of the unconscious, Oedipus and Hamlet, are fused without the tension between them being completely erased. Like Benjamin's Origins of Gennan Tragic Drama, Freud's work indicates the critical potential of a specifically modern form and concept of tragedy. Unlike the Trauer spiel, however, modern tragedy as exemplified by Shakespeare's Ham let never completely displaces ancient tragedy as exemplified by Oedipus Rex. Like the Freudian subject, tragedy in Freud's work has no clear identity. Instead, it is defined by a conflict between contend ing models of tragedy, and the critical effects of Freudian theory in

relation to philosophy, aesthetics, and social theory are directly related to the way it keeps the question of tragedy open. It could be argued that, no matter how carefully and critically con strued, no work whose subject is the tragic or even the modern tragic can avoid falling victim to what could be called tragico-centrism: that is, the tendency to create a metaphysical concept of tragedy that mir rors the metaphysical conceptions of art, philosophy, the subject, and society that it criticizes. Such a work inevitably focuses on tragedy at the expense of an equal consideration of the other arts (and on art at the expense of philosophy, history, and science) and on a single tradition in the history of art (a tradition that comprehends Greek tragedy, [French] neoclassicism, and [German] idealism and Roman ticism). As a result, it necessarily runs the risk of endowing tragedy with a specificity and exemplarity and in this manner of giving it an absolute identity. The risk of such tragico-centrism is an integral part of the critical projects of Nietzsche, Benjamin, and Freud, inasmuch as each seeks to highlight elements of the tragic that have critical potential and thus continuing relevance for the contemporary age. There is no denying that, both despite and because of their projects, each shares much with the traditional philosophies, aesthetics, and social theories they all criticize. But their work, taken both individually and collectively, also indicates the heterogeneous character of the philosophical, liter ary, critical, national, and social perspectives defining the larger sys tem that serves as the context in which the problem of tragedy emerges. In their different approaches, the irresolvable conflicts and irreconcilable identifications between philosophy and art, between the subject and society, and between national entities as well, emerge as the fundamental components of what in this context could be called the age of modern theory, which is also an age of modern trag edy. This is why it can be said that tragedy is in the last analysis less an object than a problem, less an entity that can be studied from differing theoretical perspectives - be they psychoanalytical, literary critical, philosophical, or social- than a space in which these differ ent perspectives meet and clash.


C H A PT E R 2



Philosophical Identification, Tragedy, and the Sublime: Hegel, Kant, and Antigone
Kant's Categorical Imperative is thus the heir of the Oedipus complex. -Freud This idea of art as ir:zmanent critique is perhaps best symbolized by the agon of Greek tragedy. -Adorno Aesthetics should leave the controversy between Kant and Hegel behind without trying to smooth it over. -Adorno Philosophy against Itself: Hegel versus Kant
What is tragedy? Even the literary historian who prides herself on the empirical nature of her research, even the connoisseur of dramatic lit erature cannot escape this question, and yet no individual tragedy, nor even the largest imaginable collection of works that could reasonably be called tragedies, can provide an answer to it. Put simply, tragedy itself is not given in the tragic work; this does not mean, however, that trag edy is a purely abstract, formal idea. Its nature cannot be determined without reference to tragic works of literature - there is no tragedy with out them. But neither can it be determined solely with reference to these works. The result, according to the logic of Hegel's Aesthetics, is that trag edy-that is, the concept of tragedy and hence tragedy itself-belongs to philosophy. From Hegel's perspective, the philosopher alone can fully respond to the question, What is tragedy? for the same reason that only the philosopher can fully respond to the question, What is art?

Thus the work of art, . . . in which thought expresses itself, belongs to the sphere of conceptual thinking, and the spirit, by subjecting it to philosophic treatment is thereby merely satisfy ing the need of the spirit's inmost nature . . . . Art, far removed, as we shall see more defmitely later, from being the highest form of spirit, acquires its real ratification only in philosophy.1 In this passage, Hegel does not yet answer the question What is art? but he does take what in his terms is the indispensable first step toward an answer. Once it has been established that philosophy alone can provide us with the deepest insight into the nature of art, then all that is needed is patience. If we are willing to wait for "an encyclopedic development of the whole of philosophy and its partic ular disciplines" (25), then we will at last be given the whole, com plete answer to the question of art. Even though it is tempting to do so, it wou.ld be a mistake to criticize Hegel too severely for the privilege he gives philosophy in this passage and in the Aesthetics in general. For where else can we turn for the con cept and theory of art if not to philosophy? To say that the artist, the work of art itself, or the critic can establish what art is as well as or better than the philosopher is not a satisfactory argument . If we do not already possess the definition of art, how can we be sure the artist or cri tic is something other than a philosopher, and the work of art itself, which Hegel calls an expression of thought (13), is something other than philosophical? Hegel's view of the relation between art and philos ophy cannot be refuted simply or globally, because it is impossible to argue that art is the same as or other than philosophy without making a (philosophical) presupposition concerning the nature of each. Heidegger argues in the epilogue to his "Origin of the Work of Art" that Hegel's Aesthetics is "tbe most comprehensive reflection on the nature of art that the West possesses - comprehensive because it stems from metaphysics."2 He thus pinpoints the source of the sig nificance and influence of this work, not only for avowedly Hegelian aestheticians and theorists, but for Hegel's critics as well. The Aesthe tics is notable not only for the scope and variety of the works of art and the periods in the history of art that it encompasses. What distin guishes it perhaps even more is the force and clarity with which Hegel constantly reiterates the necessity for philosophy to be the absolute starting point of aesthetics and the correspondingly system atic nature of the link that binds (his) philosophy of art to (his) philos-





ophy as a whole. Hegel's work reveals why even a particularly radical opponent of systematic, dialectical philosophy such as Nietzsche will not be able to drive a wedge between philosophy and tragedy with out himself reconfirming the link between them, albeit in different terms, through what could be called a metaphysics of tragedy. This is why for many critical philosophers today, even those whose affinity with Nietzsche is very great, the philosophy of Hegel has come to stand for a given state of things, the context in which and against which critical thinking takes place. Even after Nietzsche, Hegel's work retains its cogency and metaphysical force- or inertia. But if there is no way simply to sever the link between philosophy and tragedy, this does not mean that the first step Hegel takes in the direction of the true concept of art and hence of tragedy establishes a clear direction. Despite appearances, Hegel's thesis concerning the philosophical nature of art is not straightforward but, rather, full of ironic significance in relation to both art and philosophy. For, once it has been determined that art is not the other of philosophy, but rather that its essence is to be found in philosophy, then any disagree ment concerning the true concept of art concerns philosophy directly and in its very essence. That the philosophical character of art is irre futable only heightens the irony-it only ensnares philosophy all the more inexorably in a logic it only partially masters. The logic in question, the one that underlies the relationship be tween art and philosophy in Hegel's Aesthetics, is what I call a logic of identification, understood as a process through which philosophy finds itself in its other: art. Hegelian philosophy is speculative not only in the sense that it involves prolonged analysis of a systematic nature or that it is based on a form of reason that transcends simple experi ence. Also and perhaps most important, Hegelian philosophy is spec ulative in the sense that it is based on a specular relation between subject and object, in which object and subject are no longer opposed but seen as if each were a mirror reflection of the other. Through this process of mirroring, the Hegelian subject repeatedly puts itself in the place of the other in a series of identifications that structure not only the Phenomenology of Spirit but Hegelian philosophy as a whole. Accord ing to the logic of this specular process of identification, philosophy can always see art as an image of itself. It can find its own reason and its own concept in art, and this is why philosophy can claim that art "acquire[s] its real ratification only in philosophy:'

But the philosophical nature of art also, at least implicitly, poses a difficulty for philosophy. If it is true that the image and concept of phi losophy can be found in art, then a question arises as to whether art or philosophy is more truly and profoundly philosophical. Instead of confirming that art is a subdiscipline within a larger philosophical sys tem, identification links art and philosophy together in a rivalry whose basis is the claim implicitly shared by each to be the embodi ment of the concept of absolute reason. Another version of the im passe to which its identification with art leads philosophy is apparent in the distinctions that speculative philosophy is forced to make be tween the "essential, " philosophical elements of art and those of lesser philosophical status or importance. Such distinctions are always problematic, and as a result they point to the uneasy character of the identification between philosophy and art. They indicate the possibil ity that the philosophical and the "a-philosophical" elements of art cannot ultimately be separated and that, as a consequence, philoso phy cannot extricate itself from its identification with art but is itself contaminated precisely by what it considers to be the less properly philosophical elements in art. Hegel's attempt to make identification the basis of a dialectic that begins and ends in philosophy thus places philosophy itself at risk of losing itself and becoming another version of art. Hegel's philosophy as a whole is designed to obviate the risks inher ent in the uneasy identification between philosophy and art, but they remain particularly evident nonetheless in two closely related areas. One is in relation to Kantian aesthetics. Hegel presents his philoso phy generally as the reconciliation of the Kantian antinomies, and his stance in relation to Kantian aesthetics and in particular to Kant's con cept of the sublime is strictly analogous to his position in relation to Kantian philosophy as a whole. This not only means, however, that his critique of Kant's aesthetics is subordinate to broader philosophi cal concerns. It also means that from Hegel's perspective, to over come the Kantian sublime is to overcome Kantian philosophy itself. In Kant's version of aesthetics, the sublime is equal to and in certain respects more significant than the beautiful for the aesthetic as a whole. In Hegel's system of "the three forms of art, " however, the sub lime occupies an inferior position, inasmuch as its fate is to be tran scended by classical art. In Hegel's interpretation of art, classical art and in particular classical tragedy overcome what he holds to be the






purely negative character of the relationship between imagination and reason, between nature and the Idea in Kant's 'nalytic of the Sublime:' Classical art "clears up [the] double defect [of the sublime]; it is the free and adequate embodiment of the Idea in the shape pecu liarly appropriate to the Idea itself in its essential nature" (Aesthetics, 'TJ), and in this manner, classical art stands for Hegelian philosophy itself in relation to Kantian philosophy. However, the process through which classical art overcomes the opposition and negativity of the sublime involves not simply a rejection and a leaving behind but, rather, an identification in which the negative elements of the sub lime are incorporated into its own substance. The reconciliation of nature and Idea achieved by classical art and in particular classical tragedy is one that, at least in principle, can be effected only at great cost and only as a result of the tragic conflict between nature and Idea having reached a maximum of intensity. The relationship between Hegel's conception of classical tragedy and the Kantian sublime, however, like the relationship between Hegelian philosophy and art as a whole, can be reversed. The follow ing analysis of Kant's philosophy highlights those aspects of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, his Critique of Judgement, and, in particular, his "Analytic of the Sublime" which can be seen as implicitly, before the fact, drawing Hegelian philosophy into an irresolvable conflict con cerning the nature of art and tragedy- and hence, concerning its own nature as philosophy. Kant's critique of aesthetic judgment provides the grounds for arguing that the aesthetic is as much an interruption of the dialectic of nature and Idea as a means of reconciling them in philosophy- and that therefore the tragic (and ultimately philosophy itself) is as much sublime as classical. The reading of Kant which I propose will provide the background against which Hegel's interpretation of tragedy and, more particu larly, his reading of Sophocles' Antigone are analyzed in the second half of this chapter. As we shall see, Antigone is in Hegel's view the supreme example of tragedy and art in general precisely because of what he considers to be its effective reconciliation of the oppositions structuring the Kantian sublime. Despite the overwhelmingly posi tive, philosophical significance Hegel attaches to this play, however, what Jacques Derrida, for example, calls Hegel's fascination with the figure of Antigone3 cannot be understood wholly in terms of a simple confirmation of the philosophical dialectic. Antigone should also be

seen as a figure of the sublime -that is, of a conflict that philosophy cannot overcome in and through art because it touches the relation not only of nature to reason but also of reason to itself. I shall show that identification emerges as a central issue in the conflicting perspectives on art and tragedy offered by Kant's concept of the sublime and Hegel's concept of classical art, despite the absence of the term from the work of both . In Kant's case, I shall argue that a primary process of identification can be uncovered in the Critique of Judgement and in the Critique of Pure Reason as the very basis not only of aesthetic judgment but of reason itself. When this pri mary form of identification is contrasted with the one implicit in Hegel's interpretation of tragedy, both Hegel's interpretation and the intimately related project of grasping philosophy itself through an identification with art appear deeply problematic. In the '"Analytic of the Sublime, " in particular, the process of what I would call aesthetic identification, which makes possible judgments relative to the sub lime, can be shown ultimately to limit and divide reason and philos ophy against themselves rather than affirm them. From the perspec tive of the second '"Analytic, " Hegel's project appears compromised not because art and philosophy are totally opposite but, rather, be cause what separates them appears to be as much within philosophy (and within art) as between philosophy and art.

"Pure Reason'' and the Aesthetic: The Problematic Character of Kantian Identification
Unlike Hegel's, Kant's major philosophical works contain no refer ences to tragedy. Nonetheless, in The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche gives an important place to Kant, arguing that he "introduced an infinitely profounder and more serious view of ethical problems and of art, "4 even going so far as to say that Kantian philosophy is "Dionysian wis dom comprised in concepts" (112) . A . W. Schlegel, in his Course of Lec tures on Dramatic Art and Literature, 5 also affirms the existence of a profound affinity between Kantian philosophy and tragedy. He argues that the reason tragedy does not shun even the harshest sub ject is "that a spiritual and invisible power can only be measured by the opposition which it encounters from some external force capable of being appreciated by the senses." This fundamental aspect of trag-



edy can best be understood, he goes on, by referring to the section on the sublime in Kant's Critique of Judgement, "to the complete perfec tion of which nothing is wanting but a more defmite idea of the trag edy of the ancients, with which he does not seem to have been very well acquainted" (Dramatic Art and Literature, 69) . To some, these assertions of the importance of Kant's philosophy in relation to art and tragedy might sound paradoxicat especially when one considers the place his work has been assigned by many histo rians of philosophy thanks to its rationalism. And yet Nietzsche's view concerning the affinity between Kantian philosophy and the question of art is based on two aspects of Kant's philosophy. First, it can be seen in the way Kant elevates the problem of aesthetic judg ment from a secondary to a primary concern and in the critical impli cations of his critique of aesthetic judgment in relation to knowledge and reason themselves. Second, the idea that there is a special affinity between Kant's philosophy and tragedy is also borne out by consider ing the specific nature of aesthetic judgment as it emerges in the Cri

this problem. In the case of the ''Analytic of the Beautifut " an implicit concept of identification provides the foundation for the dis cussion of aesthetic judgment from the very start. As Jean-Luc Nancy has argued: "To think for oneself and at the same time in the place of others": beginning with German aesthetics of the eighteenth century, and with Baumgarten in particular, this formula which mixes the same and the other, which thinks or which requires the simultaneity of the same and the other in the same characterizes judgments of taste and the capacity proper to the artist. Kant will transform it from an empirical thesis into a trans cendental determination with [his notion of] the "demand for universality" of judgments of taste in the Third Critique.6 Nancy's commentary clearly echoes the language of the Third Cri tique itself, in which Kant argues that disinterested judgments - that is, judgments to which, in the language of the Third Critique, one can demand universal assent-presuppose the possibility of ''putting our selves in the position of everyone else."7 This same possibility of putting oneself in the place of everyone else, or, in Nancy's terms, of mixing the same and the other, is just what, for Freud, defines the process of identification when he first introduces the term in The Interpretation of Dreams. In the course of an interpretation of the dream of one of his patients, Freud asserts that her dream acquires new meaning if one supposes that it concerns not the dreamer herself but her friend, and that the dreamer has there fore "put herself in her friend's place, or, as we might say, . . . she has 'identified' with her friend."8 In Kant's ''Analytic of the Beauti ful/' it is just such a process of identification that is being indicated as the basis of aesthetic judgment, but now in terms not of a specific other but, rather, of an undetermined plurality of others. As a consequence of its disinterested character, Kant argues, aes thetic judgment implies the existence of a common sense, by which he means not the common (or vulgar) understanding but, rather, a public sense (151), that is, a capacity for feeling delight in the beautiful which unites all of humanity. It is because of the importance of Kant's notions of universality and common sense that Hannah Arendt and Jean-Fran<;:ois Lyotard, for example, despite the significant differences between their respective approaches to the political and the aesthetic,

tique of Judgement. What gives the critique of aesthetic judgment its central position in Kant's philosophy as a whole is that a form of identification, which is central to both philosophy and the aesthetic, emerges with particular clarity in the Third Critique, and the specific character of this Kantian version of identification also provides the link between his philoso phy and the problem of tragedy. A. W. Schlegel's view that Kant's "Analytic of the Sublime" is the part of his work with the greatest rel evance to tragedy is especially pertinent in this regard because the Kantian interpretation of identification is highlighted in precisely this section of the "Critique of Aesthetic Judgment." As we shall see, the Kantian sublime is based on a highly problematic form of identifica tion, one that, like Aristotelian catharsis, is both pleasurable and pain fut reassuring and disorienting at the same time. I argue that Kant's ''Analytic of the Sublime" both gives the process of identification a fundamental role in relation to reason and aesthetic judgment and, at the same time, highlights what is most problematic in identification. However, this is not to imply that the problematic of identification cannot be found in other sections of the Third Critique or in the other Critiques. On the contrary, the ''Analytic of the Beau tiful" and even the Critique of Pure Reason prepare the way for the ''Analytic of the Sublime" in their double and conflictual approach to





both see Kant's Critique of Judgement as providing the basis for a Kantian politics. For each of them, this politics would entail a form of association with others based on something other than convergent interests, on the one hand, or a totalitarian concept of the body poli tic, on the other.9 Their view of Kant's philosophy contrasts signifi cantly with that of Hegel, from whose perspective a Kantian politics is by definition impossible, given what he sees as the constitutive in ability of Kantian practical reason to actualize itself. Jean Hyppolite formulates this Hegelian critique in modern terms when he writes about Kant: Without doubt, the "I think" is the summit of Kantian architec ture, but this Cogito is a cogito in general, it is the common essence of individual consciousness, and the issue of transcenden tal intersubjectivity is not really raised . . . . This intersubjectivity has been considered . . . in our own time as an original "phe nomenon'' of our experience, and Heidegger has described it with the name of "Mitsein:' This being-with would be constitu tive of human reality and would belong to it on the same grounds as its being-in-the-world.10 The implication of Arendt's and Lyotard's reading of Kant, however, is that this Hegelian reading does not take seriously enough the role that the other plays in making aesthetic judgment possible - or, in other words, the fundamental nature of identification in relation to aesthetic judgment . To borrow Hyppolite's terms, though not his con clusions, it is in terms of aesthetic judgment that the transcendental character of intersubjectivity is affirmed by Kant. The specific nature of the form of identification that unites human ity in aesthetic judgment is indicated in Kant's insistence that "the assertion is not that everyone will fall in with our judgment, but rather that every one ought to agree with it" (Critique of Judgement, 84) . The (transcendental) other whose agreement I seek (Bz - Man wirbt um jedes andern Beistimmung) when I pronounce a judgment of taste is another (human) subj ect like myself. This is why it is possible that he or she will agree with me. However, that other is truly other, in the sense that I cannot know whether or not he or she will in fact agree with my judgment. If the j udgment of the other were always in prin ciple in agreement with mine, then the other would be another (ver sion of) myself. Judgment would be rational, but there would be no

relationship to the other as other. If, however, the judgment of the other were simply different from mine, if he or she were swayed by other, purely personal tastes, then the otherness of the other would indeed be affirmed, but not in relation to reason. The relationship to others would be merely empirical and in this sense subject to the vicissitudes of accident and personal history. The relation to the other is transcendental in Kant's terms, that is, it affects reason itself, pre cisely because the other is neither simply same nor other. What is already being indicated in this discussion of the universal ity of taste in the ''Analytic of the Beautiful" is the problematic char acter of the process of identification which is the condition of aesthetic judgment. Aesthetic judgments relative to the beautiful are based on an identification with others: this is what is meant by their universality. But the problematic character of identification is being indicated in the ambiguous status of the other- neither simply an other nor simply identical to myself. In aesthetic judgment, I cannot choose which aspect of the other my demand is addressed to. Aes thetic judgment mixes the same and the other in the sense that it is addressed to both a stranger and myself, both to myself as stranger and to a stranger as myself. A putting oneself in the place of the other accounts for the universal ity not only of taste, as it is understood by Kant, but also for the univer sal or categorical character of moral law. In this sense, identification is as fundamental to Kantian ethics as to Kantian aesthetics. Of course, Kant's Critique of Practical Reason, like his critique of aesthetic judg ment, stresses the subjective character of moral law. But what has been said above concerning the transcendental character of the relation to others applies to the Second as well as to the Third Critique. In the Cri tique of Practical Reason as well as in the Critique of Judgement, the place in which I put myself- or in which conscience puts me -when I put myself in the place of the other is the place of the freedom of the other, and thus of what is other both in relation to myself and in relation to the other. Nietzsche's remark that Kant's philosophy made possible a "more serious view of ethical problems and of art" can be interpreted in terms of the transcendental (or in Freud's terms, the primary) char acter of this identification with others. Unlike Euripidean identifica tion, which according to Nietzsche's argument drags art, ethics, and the other down to the level of the mediocre self, Kantian identification raises the subject to the level of this "transcendental alterity."


The "Analytic of the Beautiful" is not the only place in Kant's philos ophy where the "Analytic of the Sublime" is being anticipated in terms of the problematic sense it conveys with respect to identifica tion, however. In the Critique of Pure Reason, identification also plays a primary role and has an analogously ambiguous significance. More over, it is significant that identification should play this role. Not only does the Critique of Pu re Reason thus offer an additional confirmation of the importance of identification in the philosophy of Kant, but it also indicates that the process of identification is constitutive with respect not only to aesthetic judgment but also to reason itself, even in its theoretical form. It is certainly true that Kant, because he had already recast his notion of identification in transcendental rather than empirical terms in the Critique of Pure Reason, was able in the Cri tique of Judgement to bring a bold new solution to many of the dilem mas that the question of taste had posed for his predecessors. But the reverse is true as well. Because the logic of identification, even as it is described in the Critique of Pure Reason, is already an aesthetic logic, because it is already a logic of primary identification with others, the First Critique (and ultimately Kant's philosophy as a whole) appears not only as a theory equal, at least in certain respects, to the task of understanding the aesthetic. It also appears as a theory in which the aesthetic, or at least a certain aesthetic conception of identification, founds reason, and in which, as a result, reason itself is confronted with the question of art from the (its) beginning. In the simplest terms, identification is primary in relation to reason because, in the language of the Critique of Pure Reason, the rational sub ject as such is not and cannot be an object of knowledge. From the per spective of the First Critique, the inaccessibility of the rational subject to its own knowledge is implicit in the distinction between what Kant calls the empirical unity of self-consciousness and the transcendental unity of self-consciousness. Since all knowledge relates concepts to intuitions, and since there is no intuition where there is no object to
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HEGE L, KANT, AND ANTIGONE + 49 ing") of the Critique of Pure Reason . There Kant finally addresses him self directly to the paradox [das Paradox], which must have struck everybody in our exposition of the form of the internal sense; namely, how that sense represents to the consciousness even ourselves, not as we are by ourselves, but as we appear to ourselves, because we perceive ourselves only as we are affected internally. This seems to be contradictory, because we should thus be in a pas sive relation to ourselves.11 The paradox could not be clearer. In his essay Kant's Critical Philoso phy, Gilles Deleuze expresses it by borrowing a well-known poetic for mula from Rimbaud: "Je est un autre" - "I is an other."12 Rimbaud violates the rules of grammar in order to render the radical character of the alienation of the self from itself, and the radical character of this alienation - in this case the split within the Kantian subject- is what Deleuze is also underscoring. Thanks to the active nature Kant attributes to the understanding and the passive nature he attributes to sensibility, the self is an other for itself. At the same time, the other is the self, but a "strange" self from which the self is alienated . The "I think" is an actor who is both absent and present in the self that occupies the empirical stage - absent because it cannot find itself in the empirical self, but present in the sense that it cannot be found any where else, that is to say, in the sense that it is nothing apart from this empirical self that "it in effect produces . . . by affecting the internal sense" (91) . That the notion of paradox imposes itself on Kant at this point in his analysis is itself indicative of the violence his description of the subject does to even the most supple forms of logic. No single synthe sis and no simple dialectic can wholly comprehend within itself the contradictory and primary process of identification Kant is in fact describing here. On the contrary, according to the (paradoxical) logic of this primary process of identification, passivity and activity mutu allY reinforce each other in their contradiction. The activity of the ud.:rstanding is what produces the unity of the subject, but the rift b<.'t\,.:.:n understanding and sensibility can only be accentuated by that same activity. The more the subject is "I, " the less "I" it is. These passages from "Of the Application of the Categories to t e Objects of the Senses in General" are, of course, to be found not m

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50 + IDENTIFICATION, TRAG EDY, AND THE SUBLIME the nrst edition of the Critique of Pure Reason but, rather, in the second. This is a highly important distinction from the standpoint of Heidegger, who argues, in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, that Kant betrayed the most radical implications of the Critique of Pure Reason when he rewrote it for the second edition.13 From Heidegger's perspective, . the passages quoted above, because of the stress they lay on the active nature of the understanding, on its unique ability to produce unity, would clearly exemplify the general tendency of the second edition to promote the understanding at the expense of the transcendental imag ination in particular and at the expense of sensibility or intuition as well . Despite the undeniable importance of Heidegger's reading, it is nonetheless possible to question his view that, in rewriting the First Critique, Kant decides in favor of the pure understanding (175) and thus betrays the most radical and critical implications of his philoso phy.t4 In making this argument, Heidegger does not give sufficient weight to the highly problematic character of the theoretical subject as it emerges in the second version of the Critique ofPure Reason. The effect of Kant's revisions, as exemplined in the passage quoted above, is in my mind more complex than Heidegger acknowledges. On the one hand, it is quite true that they appear to downplay the unifying role of the transcendental imagination and thus subordinate the whole sub ject to a triumphant understanding. On the other hand, it is also true that, by accentuating the passivity of sensibility and the activity of the understanding, Kant in effect radically splits the subject. The effect of this split is not merely to benent the understanding but, from another standpoint, to subject it to a radical limitation, inasmuch as this split makes the subject inaccessible to the understanding itself. In this sense it could be argued that the second version of the Cri tique ofPure Reason is much more effective than the nrst in combating to borrow the terms of Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy -the theoretical optimism of the Socratic tradition. To Socrates' famous dictum "Know thyself," it opposes another imperative : Recognize the limits of (self)-knowledge. Of [the real] subject [in which knowledge inheres], however, we have not and cannot have the slightest knowledge, because con sciousness is that which alone changes representations into thoughts, and in which, therefore, as the transcendental sub ject, all our perceptions must be found. Besides the logical mean ing of the I, we have no knowledge of the subject in itself, which



forms the substratum and foundation of it and of all our thoughts. (Critique of Pure Reason, 253) Kant's philosophy never ceases indicating and approaching the "sub ject in itself, " which in its terms forms the foundation of all thought; however, Kant maintains that the same subject is completely inacces sible to our knowledge. Self-reflexivity is an imperative, perhaps the imperative of his philosophy, but it is a self-reflexivity without a self. The Kantian subject is an "as-if" self, a theatrical subject split between reflection and sensibility-that is to say, split between the unknowable nothing that is the "I think" and the pathetic subject with which, from a certain standpoint, the "I think" has no necessary connection. The Kantian "I think" yields no proof or certainty that "I am." In this sense, Kantian philosophy is not subjective. That is to say, it is not based on self-knowledge or on any perspective on the subject to which the subject itself would have privileged access. The character Kant ascribes to the subject relates directly to the cen tral role played by identincation in both the Critique of Pure Reason and the Critique of Judgement. The radical nature of the split in the self lies in the fact that the Kantian self exists for itself in exactly the same terms in which it exists for others - my relation to myself is as passive or as active as that of others to me. A transcendental alterity, which comes to the fore as the central principle of the Critique of Judgement, is already clearly being indicated in the passivity of the internal sense in relation to the understanding. The place of the subject is the place of others, for whom it is appearance - or abyss- just as it is for itself. The split in the subject, which is the result of the inaccessibility of the subject to its own faculty of understanding, makes it impossible to ground the subject in self-knowledge. In doing so, it implicitly creates the possibility of another "ground" for the subject: a "transcenden tal" identincation with others. In terms of the fundamental but problematic nature of the role played by identincation, the Critique of Pure Reason and the ''Analytic of the Beautiful" prepare the way for and permit a fuller appreciation of the implications of the ''Analytic of the Sublime, " in which iden tincation is once again central . Nonetheless, the problematic charac ter of Kantian identilication can be said to emerge with special force and clarity in this Second Analytic. In the case of judgments relative to the sublime, the ambivalent nature of identincation is linked, once


HEG EL, KANT, AND A NTIGONE + 53 experienced by human reason when it confronts the noticm of free dom: "The unconditioned necessity, which we require as the last sup port of all things, is the true abyss of human reason. Eternity itself, however terrible and sublime it may have been depicted by Haller, is far from producing the same giddy impression" (409). Like the super sensible in the case of the sublime, the notion of an unconditioned necessity occasions a feeling of malaise in us greater than that pro duced by eternity, not despite but rather because we find it in our selves as subjects.15 The Third Critique is thus made necessary by the First, not exactly because, as Hegel would have it, art is a particular, that is, uncon scious form of knowledge (Aesthetics, 59) . Rather, it is because the idea of a primary form of identihcation is the foundation of Kant's critique of aesthetic judgment and is also presupposed in his affirmations con cerning the paradoxical character of the knowing and even of the rational subject. Reason cannot think itself without thinking in the place of the other. That is also why reason cannot think itself without identifying with the aesthetic -without being confronted by the fact that the primary form of identification exemplified in aesthetic judg ment is analogous to the problematic process through which reason itself is constituted. The idea that the question of the aesthetic could be just a subquestion within a larger encyclopedic system of science or philosophy seems inadequate to describe the more complex rela tionship that emerges in Kant's work . What comes to the fore instead, to borrow some of the terms, if not the overriding logic, of Hegel's interpretation of tragedy, is the idea that both knowledge and aes thetic judgment have equal theoretical justihcation. The Third Critique however, is necessitated by the First in another sense: because the '1\.. nalytic of the Beautiful" and, even more, the "Analytic of the Sublime" spell out the ambivalence that is the neces sary correlate of a fundamental or primary process of identihcation. It is because identification is primary that self-knowledge is radically limited, and this means that identihcation is of necessity not merely pleasurable or reassuring. In the sublime version of identification, delight is mixed with violence, attraction is mixed with repulsion, much as, one is tempted to say, in Aristotelian catharsis, pity is mixed with fear. In the final analysis, Nietzsche's assertion concerning the affinity between Kantlan philosophy and tragedy is sustained most unequivocally by the nature of Kantian identification. When Kant's

again, to an identification of the subject with itself, understood as what is other and unfathomable for it- that is, with what Kant calls the supersensible or the Idea. This identihcation is accompanied by or manifest in a "rapidly alternating repulsion and attraction ." Kant explains these conflicting feelings by asserting that, on the one hand, the mind is repelled by the supersensible, because, for the imagina tio, which is only at ease in relation to the intuitable phenomena of nature, the supersensible is "like an abyss in which it fears to lose itself" (Critique of Judgement, 107). On the other hand, the mind is attracted to the supersensible because reason identifies with the super sensible: for it, the feeling associated with the sublime is a confirma tion of its own supersensible nature (107). The result of this identification of the subject and a supersensible realm in which it recognizes its own self is a "vibration" (107) or even a "violence" (108) . This violence concerns the imagination first of all, because the imagination in particular is frustrated by the impossibil ity of representing the supersensible and thus of reconciling it to the realm of nature and intuition. Hence, from the standpoint of the imag ination, it can already be said that what is experienced by the subject in the case of the sublime is something radically different from itself. However, the imagination is not alone in being touched by the vio lence of the sublime. As Kant puts it, that same violence not only affects the imagination but is "final for the whole vocation [Bestimmung] of the mind" (108, translation modified) . If reason, unlike the imagi nation, can identify with the supersensible, still that identification is not merely reassuring. Like the imagination, for which the supersen sible is other, reason, for which the supersensible is an image of itself, experiences a feeling of violence as if before an abyss. The split whose existence is being indicated in the violence of the sublime is not only between nature and the Idea, or between imagination and reason, but also within the Idea or reason itself. The process of primary identifica tion is thus both positive and negative for reason as well as for the imagination- that is, reason is its own abyss. It should be stressed once again that this conclusion applies not only to reason in the form in which it is brought into play in aesthetic judgment . Just as the split in the subject of knowledge already indi cates the possibility of a transcendental alterity, so Kant's analysis of the violence associated with the sublime is already being indicated in the First Critique, in a passage in which Kant describes the malaise



HE GEL, KANT, AND A NTIGONE + 55 What drama is to art and poetry as a whole, tragedy itself is to drama. In fact, for the young Hegel, the mediating function of the tragic is so distinct and powerful that he qualifies it as "the expression of the absolute position!'17 Finally, what tragedy is to drama, Antigone is to the tragic genre itself, as Hegel indicates when he calls Sopho cles' play "the most magnificent and satisfying work of this kind" (Aesthetics, 1218). While art as a whole is assigned the task of reconcil ing the terms that are opposed in Kant's philosophy, the preeminent positions of tragedy within the sphere of art and of Antigone within the tragic genre indicate that this Greek tragedy performs that task better than any other work of art. The mediating role that Hegel attributes to Antigone is thus in part a function of its nature as the supreme work of art, but it is also, equally important, a function of the conflict it depicts and the manner in which in Hegel's view the play resolves that conflict . The excel lence of Antigone should be understood not only in terms of Hegel's concept of drama but also in terms of his view of classical art and its ability to overcome the sublime phase of art . Classical art, as has already been suggested, is metasublime because it mediates between the two terms whose opposition is for Hegel the substance of the sub lime: nature and Idea . The sublime is "a mere search for portrayal [rather] than a capacity for true presentation" of the Idea (76) . In clas sical art, on the other hand, the Idea achieves adequate, concrete presentation, and as a result Hegel holds classical art to be "con cretely spiritual" (78). The human form is the central figure in classi cal art, according to Hegel, because it is "the existence and natural shape of the spirit" (78). Antigone embodies the mediating function of art not only because of its position as the supreme work of art, but also because of its depiction of the conflict between reason and nature and the manner in which that conflict is overcome. There are in effect three actors in A ntigone as read by Hegel : the two antagonists, Antigone and Creon, and the chorus, which is the tragic embodiment of what Hegel calls the ethical community of which Antigone and Creon are a part. The significance of Hegel's concept of the ethical community lies precisely in that it encompasses both nature and reason in its ethical life, that it harmonizes their claims and thus permits their conflict to be over come. According to Hegel, the ethical community is firmly rooted in nature insofar as "nature, not the accident of circumstances or

philosophy as a whole and his Critique of Judgement in particular are read in terms of the problematic of identification, they appear in a different light from the one in which Heidegger and others have placed them. )ubjectivity is not confirmed but rather, to an equally important extent, surrendered (Birth of Tragedy, 64); contradiction and pain (55) play as great a role as reconciliation and delight; and a faith that knowledge "can penetrate the deepest abysses of being" (95) gives ground to a sense of the way knowledge is limited by the very process of identification that constitutes the rational subject.

The Divided Subject of Tragedy: Hegel against Hegel

The work of Hegel, unlike that of Kant, contains many explicit refer ences to tragedy and, in particular, to Sophocles' Antigone, which he considers the most important and exemplary tragedy of all .16 Sgnific antly, Hegel's reading of Antigone is directly linked to his interpreta tion of the philosophy of Kant. From his earliest theological writings to the fmal p ages of the Aesthetics, Hegel can be seen to be working to bridge the abyss opened by Kant's description of the subject and thus implicitly to qualify and delimit the process of identification whose primary nature is indicated in Kant's text. The passages in Hegel's work that most directly relate to this project are also fre quently those where Antigone is evoked. But though the philosophy of Kant and Sophocles' Antigone are closely linked in Hegel's texts, the link from Hegel's own perspective is negative. In his introduction to the Aesthetics, Hegel makes it clear that art in general plays a key role in effecting the conciliation of the various oppositions, which in his view structure Kant's philosophy. Examples are the opposition "between subjective thinking and objective things, between the abstract universality and the sensuous individuality of the will, " and between "the practical side of the spirit" as opposed to "the theoretical" (Hegel, Aesthetics, 56). If art as a whole effects concil iation and thus represents the sublation of Kantian philosophy, drama implicitly accomplishes these two aims more fully and perfectly than any other form of poetry or art, inasmuch as Hegel holds it to represent the highest form of both : "Because drama has been developed into the most perfect totality of content and form, it must be regarded as the highest stage of poetry and of art generally" (1158).


choice, "18 assigns each sex to its appropriate sphere in the life of the community- the family or the stat e - and also implicitly constitutes the distinct spheres themselves in their differences and essential har mony. But the community is also rational, insofar as it also encom passes an ethical life that is rooted not in natural feeling or even natural particularity but, rather, in consciousness (274) . It is the woman whose ethical life is rooted in nature, that is, in the natural particularity of the family. In contrast, the life of the man is rooted in reason, that is, the self-conscious activity of the state. From Hegel's perspective, the conflict between Antigone and Creon is thus one between the family and the state, woman and man - and it is also a properly sublime conflict between nature and reason. Hegel attempts to bear out his thesis concerning the mediating function of art and drama in his reading of Antigone, in which he con structs a dialectical interpretation of tragedy that is intended to heal the split in the subject opened up by Kant's thought and to restore philosophy to its position as both the starting point and the end point of aesthetics and ethics. Of course, the central role that devolves to tragedy both in Hegel's Aesthetics and in his earlier work relates not only to his view of the med iating function of tragedy, but also to the depth and intensity with which it brings out division and conflict. Peter Szondi argues that this distinctive quality of Hegel's interpretation of tragedy is evident even at the earliest stages of his work: "In contradistinction to Schelling, Hegel directs his attention not only to the identity [of individual morality and the universal], but also to the perpetual conflict of the powers grasped in their identity and to the movement inherent in their unity" ("Notion of the Tragic, " 49). The young Hegel's notion of tragedy as the expres sion of the absolute position would be misleading if we conceived of the absolute position itself in terms of an indifference - in which the oppositions analyzed by Schelling always culminate. Instead, as expressed in tragedy, the absolute is already being thought in dynamic terms as conflict and movement, which pit the tragic characters against each other and against their own fate. In the Phenomenology, as Szondi once again notes, Hegel was to reproach Schelling in veiled terms for his haste m advancing to the stage of harmony. Hegel's interpretation of tragedy requires that we tarry (Phenomenology, 19) with the division and conflict introduced by the tragic into the ethical/aesthetic sphere and not pass over them too quickly or superficially.

HEGEL, KANT, AND A NTIGONE + 57 Hegel's own interpretation of Antigone, in other words, comprises both a Kantian and a Hegelian moment, both a sublime and a classi cal dimension. Conflict or opposition must reach a maximum of inten sity and gravity in order that their resolution be total and pure. Harmony cannot succeed conflict too quickly because harmony be comes actual only insofar as we recognize conflict and disruption as essential to it . This means, however, that only absolute, irreconcilable conflict can produce absolute harmony. But how? Hegelian philoso phy, in other words, can be only Hegelian and not Schellingian, inso far as it is Kantian. In this way, the dialectic appears not only as a powerful machine for converting all forms of alterity into versions of its (same) self, but also as a gigantic double bind, which causes the dialectic to work constantly against itself, to be in constant danger of losing itself, of being interrupted before it has recovered itself. The logic of the dialectic in relation to its tragic phase is thus radi cally contradictory over and above the usual meaning of contradic tion, understood as the "work of the negative" or, in other words, as a process that leads to Absolute Knowledge. As a result, the progress of the dialectic toward its resolution in philosophy can be assured only through an active intervention designed to rescue philosophy from its potential interruption by tragedy. Hegel's interpretation of Antigone has a correspondingly dual focus. One side of his analysis reflects a need to affirm the depth and intensity of the tragic conflict, in order that the reconciliation proposed by tragedy be total and abso lute. Another side of it, however, reflects a need to limit the depth and intensity of the same conflict, in order to ensure that the dialectic not be interrupted and that its progress toward its culmination in phi losophy, while threatened, not ultimately be impeded. Hegel thus evokes and then rejects the possibility that what separ ates Antigone and Creon might be constitutive with respect to the community of which they are members, and it is in terms of this com munity that he portrays their conflict as ultimately superficial and resolvable. In order to do this, he appeals to the figure of Antigone herself and to a theory of the predominantly natural character of the woman, and it is in terms of this theory that he harmonizes the con flicting claims of Antigone and Creon. The dominant tendency of Hegel's interpretation of Antigone is thus a sublation of the conflict between the principals, which enables Hegel to use the play, or at any rate his interpretation of it, to sublate the philosophy of Kant. But

58 + ID ENTIFICATION, TRAG EDY, AND THE SUBLIME because of the relatively arbitrary nature of Hegel's decision to subor dinate the element of conflict in Sophocles' tragedy to the element of reconciliation, his interpretation of Antigone also, and against its dom inant argument, indicates the possibility of another equally plausible interpretation of the play- one in terms of which Antigone would appear as an exemplary tragedy thanks to its sublime rather than clas sical nature. The dominant tendency in Hegel's analysis of Antigone is evident above all in what he writes about the ch us. Like Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, Hegel's interpretation of Greek tragedy also has as a central feature a discussion of the origins and significance of the Greek chorus. The chorus, Hegel argues, "belongs essentially to the drama ' tic action itself and is so necessary to it that the decay of tragedy is especially manifested in the deterioration of the choruses which no longer remain an integral part of the whole but sink down into being an unnecessary ornament" (Aesthetics, 1212) . However different the terms in which they conceive of the chorus, for Hegel as for Nie tzsche, tragedy dies when the chorus ceases to be its central feature. In Hegel's terms, the central position of the chorus in tragedy stems from the fact that only when the spectator considers the outcome of tragedy from its perspective is he or she afforded a sense of satisfac tion. Though the destruction of the principals might appear unjust when one considers the ethical nature of their characters, it nonethe less gives rise to what Hegel calls a sense of eternal justice, inasmuch as the community itself is thereby preserved: 'In Greek tragedy it is eternal justice which, as the absolute power of fate, saves and main tains the harmony of the substance of the ethical order against the par ticular powers which were becoming independent and therefore collid ing, and because of the inner rationality of its sway we are satisfied when we see individuals coming to ruin' ' (1230). Whatever the moral worthiness of his or her actions, the individual as individual can only be a disruptive element when he or she asserts himself or herself from within the ethical community, and his or her tragic flaw, his or her guilt, and the spectator's own sense of satisfaction at the tragic out come are ultimately understandable always in relation to it. Hegel's interpretation of the role of the chorus in Greek tragedy corresponds clearly to his critique of Kantian subjectivity, which, he claims, is cut off from the ethical community and constitutes a moment that is abstract and formal in relation to the life of the community. The chorus,

HEGEL, KANT, AND ANTIGONE + 59 in other words, is like "a temple surrounding the image of the gods." In another image, Hegel writes of the chorus as "the scene of the spirit" (1211). It encompasses the subject, providing a context for it that is both its other and its own substance, and in this sense it prefigures philos ophy in its harmony and in its reconciliation of self and other. What is striking in the passages from the Aesthetics dealing with the chorus is not only the consistency with which Hegel highlights its mediating function but also the ethical terms in which he discusses it and Antigone as a whole. The chorus is described as the embodiment of an ethical order; the play as a whole provides above all a sense of eternal justice; and the conflict between Antigone and Creon is said to exemplify a clash between two ethical powers. To say that the play has an ethical dimension from Hegel's perspective does not go far enough in suggesting the role played by Hegel's conception of the eth ical in his interpretation. It would be more accurate to say that, in his interpretation of Antigone, Hegel appears to be doing what one critic has accused him of doing in the section of the Phenomenology in which he interprets Diderot's Le Neveu de Rameau: totally ignoring the boundaries separating the ethical and the aesthetic.19 From Hegel's perspective, however, it is perfectly legitimate to speak of Antigone in ethical terms, and there is no risk that in doing so the properly aes .,_etic dimension of this Greek tragedy will be ignored or reduced. Why this should be the case is indicated in a pas sage from the Aesthetics in which Hegel describes the fusion of the eth ical and the aesthetic in Greek life. He tells us that the Greeks not only produced supremely beautiful works of art, but that they were themselves supreme works of art. It is not just "the heroic figures in epic and drama'' who must be considered from the standpoint of their plasticity and beauty, according to Hegel: After all, in the beautiful days of Greece men of action, like poets and thinkers, had this same plastic and universal yet individual character both inwardly and outwardly. . . . The Periclean age was especially rich in such characters: Pericles himself, Phidias, Plato, Sophocles above all, Thucydides too, Xenophon, Socrates each of them of his own sort, unimpaired by another's; all of them are out-and-out artists by nature, ideal artists shaping themselves, individuals of a single cast, works of art standing there like immor tal and deathless images of the gods, in which there is ncthing tem poral and doomed. (Aesthetics, 719-20)


With this passage, Hegel's implicit view that, in discussing the ethical significance of Antigone, he is also considering it as an aesthetic object is explained, for the essence of the Greek ethical community is aes thetic. In a manner that anticipates Nietzsche's assertions concerning the fusion of spectators and actors, of life and art in the "great sub lime chorus" of the Dionysian festival (Birth of Tragedy, 62), Hegel's view of the Greeks implies that Antigone is not just an (artistic) repre sentation or expression of the ethical life of the Greeks. Greek life and art, the ethical community and Antigone, are one and the same, a sin gle entity that should be considered the Greek's supreme aesthetic ethical work. Hegel's conception of the Greeks thus accounts for, if it does not authorize, the way in which the different versions of his reading of Antigone collapse the ethical and the aesthetic. It also reveals the the ory of identification that is implicit each time Hegel reads Sophocles' play. That the ethical community and Antigone are one and the same is perhaps the clearest indication of the unambiguous, essentially pos itive form of identification that prevails at all levels of Hegel's interpre tation of art, ethics, and, ultimately, knowledge. The Greek is of necessity at home in Greek art insofar as his own substance and Greek art are one, and thus it can be seen that the ultimate nature of aesthetic experience lies in an authentication (Phenomenology, 278) of the Greek rather than a confrontation that is potentially violent or repellent, to borrow from Kant. The process of identification that implicitly links the Greek to Greek art can also be understood in eth ical terms, as the process linking the individuals in the ethical com munity to one another and to the community as a whole; and it is, moreover, in terms of the wholeness of this community that Hegel criticizes the Kantian subject as being cut off from the other in which it must find itself or with which it must identify positively. Finally, an essentially positive version of identification is also implicit in Hegel's description of the relationship between the ethical powers, whose common ethical nature is for Hegel the guarantee of their fundamen tal harmony and ultimate identity. These points emerge more clearly in the fuller discussion of the eth ical community that appears in the Phenomenology and the Philosophy of Right. Though in these other works the interpretations given of Antigone are entirely consistent with that given in the Aesthetics, both in their details and in the way they too implicitly condense the ethical

HEGEL, KANT, AND A NTIGONE + 61 and the aesthetic, they also provide a fuller, more complex picture of the ethical community. In these additional descriptions of Antigone, we see more clearly the dynamic nature of the life of the community and of tragedy underscored by Szondi. Far from being undifferenti ated or homogeneous, the life of the ethical community, according to Hegel, is full of contrasts between human and divine laws, among the institutions to which they give rise, and above all, between the Greek woman and the Greek man, whose separate and at times overlapping spheres of activity define the chorus/ethical community as a whole. In Antigone, Hegel tells us in The Philosophy of Right, we see family piety as "principally the law of woman, " and he goes on to character ize this law in Sophocles' own terms as '"an everlasting law, and no man knows at what time it was first put forth."'20 According to this more developed description of the ethical community, then, the basis . of the harmony of the community, or the reconciliation that it spon taneously effects between the rational-ethical and the natural, lies in the sexual -that is, in the difference between the sexes and the man ner in which that difference is incorporated into Greek life. Despite the contrasts between the human and the divine, the state and the family, and the man and the woman, or rather, thanks to them, Hegel nonetheless insists in the Phenomenology that the ethical realm is "in its enduring existence an immaculate world, a world unsullied by any internal dissension. Similarly, its process is a tran quil transition of one of its powers into the other, in such a way that each preserves and brings forth the other. We do indeed see it divide itself into two essences and their reality; but their antithesis is rather the authentification of one through the other" (278). The. ethical is for Hegel a community in the strongest possible sense: a whole in which each part- be it ethical 'power or individual - is "at home in this whole" (277). This harmony reflects the fact that at bottom, the two sexes authenticate each other and the antithesis between them is superficial (267). The critical thrust of this description of the ethical community in relation to the philosophy of Kant is clear. Like Heidegger much later, Hegel implicitly faults Kant for having subjected the ethical sphere to a triumphant faculty of reason at the expense of intuition - or nature. His aim is thus to connect reason and nature once again. That is why for Hegel the law of the ethical community is not and cannot be an abstract categorical imperative. It is, rather, rooted in nature, under-

62 + ID ENTIFICATION, TRAGEDY, AND THE SUBLIME stood as custom and particularity, in the differences between the divine and human law, in other words, in the specificity of the rela tions between the state and the family, among family members, and above all, between members of the opposite sex. The sexual enters into the law, which is to an important extent its expression, and gives it its concrete character. The oneness of the chorus and hence its ethical and aesthetic importance is thus rooted in Hegel's interpretation of the natural and more specifically the sexual. As Jacques Derrida indicates in Glas, in the light in which it is placed by Hegel's reading, Antigone appears not only as the common root of the Greek tradition to which it origi nally belonged, and of German idealism, but also of modern psycho analysis as well. With Hegel's reading of Antigone, the question of sexuality- or at any rate, of sexual difference - becomes central to Hegelian philosophy. The sexual emerges as the underpinning of rea son in both its ethical and aesthetic forms. The other element of tragedy, which Hegel contrasts with the chorus, is "the individual 'pathos' which drives the dramatis per sonae, acting with an ethical justification, into opposition with others and thereby brings them into conflict" (Aesthetics, 1209) . The individ ual and the conflict that results when he or she emerges from against the background provided by the ethical community are the "properly dramatic" elements of tragedy (1171) . The chorus provides a stage, but the action- the play proper- belongs to the individual characters. Though he appears to contradict his earlier claims about the impor tance of the chorus, Hegel nonetheless asserts in commenting on the role of the individual characters that 'neither the chorus (as poetic form) nor the monologue is central to tragedy. Instead, dialogue is the one "completely dramatic form' ' (1172) . Implicitly this is the case because monologue can show us the individual, but not in conflict, and the chorus can show us only the ethical community. Dialogue alone can show the individual in conflict- can show, in other words, that the essence of the individual is the conflict that he or she intro duces into the ethical world. 21 This interpretation of the relationship between the formal elements of tragedy is consistent with Hegel's treatment of the relationship between the individual and tragic conflict in the Phenomenology as well . The self and conflict are so intimately connected that one looks in vain for a means of distinguishing them. Even the idea that the self

HEGEL, KANT, AND ANTIGONE + 63 is the cause of conflict is too weak; that is, it gives a misleading pic ture of how they are related from Hegel's perspective. The individual and conflict are neither causally connected nor structurally equiva lent. They are simply identical: The way in which the antithesis is constituted in this ethical realm is such that self-consciousness has not yet received its due as a particular individuality. There it has the value, on the one hand, merely of the universal will, and on the other, of consan guinity. This particular individual counts only as a shadowy unreality. And yet, no deed has been committed; but the deed is the actual self. It disturbs the peaceful organization and move ment of the ethical world. What there appears as order and har mony of its two essences, each of which authenticates and completes the other, becomes through the deed a transition of opposites in which each proves itself to be the non-reality, rather than the authentifi.cation, of itself and the other. (Phenomenology,

The deed introduces conflict into the ethical order, but the deed - and the conflict - is already given in and by the individual self, insofar as the deed is nothing more than what Hegel calls the actual self. The deed and the actual self emerge abruptly and simultaneously in the midst of the ethical community, whose harmonious character is dra matically altered by this emergence. It should be noted that for Hegel, the disruption of the ethical total ity by the self is not simply negative. However beautiful the commu nity, the actualization of the self, the transcendence of the ethical community, and tragic conflict itself are all necessary: "Spirit is the ethical life of a nation in so far as it is the immediate tru th - the individ ual that is a world. It must advance to the consciousness of what it is immediately, must leave behind it the beauty of ethical life, and by passing through a series of shapes attain to a knowledge of itself" (265) . In the sense that Hegel affirms the destruction of the ethical world by the individual, he is also affirming the conflict introduced into that world by the individual. This is still another way of under standing what Szondi calls the dynamic nature of Hegel's interpreta tion of tragedy, or, in other words, the productive nature of negativity, which, according to Hegel, is introduced into the ethical community by the self. By simultaneously affirming the individual and the dissolution of the ethical world, Hegel is doing what must be

64 + IDENTIFICATION, TRAGEDY, AND THE SUBLIME done if the reconciliation of tragic conflict is to produce an ultimate har mony: he is affirming conflict itself, its absolute nature and necessity. But if Hegel is not crudely nostalgic for the ethical community, if he also affirms conflict and/as the individual, he also defends his view of their relationship -the idea that they are identical. Of course, this also means he is defending the idea that the ethical community itself is unsullied by any dissension, that conflict befalls the ethical commu nity rather than being an essential part of its structure as community. In Hegel's analysis, in other words, the individual subject is made the bearer of conflict, and thus, just as the individual is both a part of and other than the ethical community, so conflict is in the ethical commu nity, but only in the sense that it is contained by it, not in the sense that it is a constitutive element of the community as well. In this sense, Hegel's affirmation of the importance of tragic conflict simulta neously implies a limitation of it. In his interpretation of Antigone, Hegel himself seems at one point to entertain the possibility of a conflict that would be much more deeply rooted in the ethical substance when he writes : "There is immanent in both Antigone and Creon something that in their own way they attack, so that they are gripped and shattered by something intrinsic to their own actual being" (Aesthetics, 1217-18). The imma nence in Antigone and Creon of the very thing they are attacking indi cates the possibility that their conflict is absolute, because no ultimate reconciliation would seem to be possible if a given conflict stems from the element or elements the antagonists have in common. In this sense, the ethicity common to Antigone and Creon would not neces sarily guarantee the ultimate harmony of the ethical powers they rep resent but, on the contrary, could also be interpreted as an indication that the ethical substance itself is divided by conflict. But while Hegel's comments on the characters of Antigone and Creon evoke the possibility of fundamental and thus absolute ethical conflict, he dismisses this same possibility in the Phenomenology, in a passage that clearly anticipates his critique in the Aesthetics of the trag edies of Corneille and Racine. Hegel writes that in the case of tragic conflict between competing ethical powers, we are not faced "with the sorry spectacle of a collision between passion and duty, nor with the comic spectacle of a collision between duty and duty. . . . The col lision of duties is comic because it expresses a contradiction: viz. the contradiction of an Absolute that is opposed to itself" (Phenomenal-


ogy, 279) . Tragedy, he argues here, would not be tragedy if it pre

sented us with an opposition between duty and duty, that is, an oppo sition intrinsic to the ethical itself . But it would be more accurate to say that tragedy would not be classical, it would not accomplish the work of the philosophical dialectic, and it would not exemplify better than any other form of art the philosophical vocation of art itself, if it depicted a collision that involved not only the individual characters but the ethical community itself. The possibility that tragic conflict concerns not just the individual in his or her relation to the ethical community but also - or even rather- the ethical community itself is evident in Hegel's analysis of the relation between man and woman as it emerges as the central conflict in Antigone. As we have seen, in the ethical community con ceived of as an immaculate world, the difference between the two eth ical powers, a difference that at bottom corresponds to the difference between the sexes, is only a contrast, and the two opposed terms con stantly merge, each finding authentication in the other. Hegel none theless finds it necessary to distinguish between the two terms, in order to effect a marriage between the particularity and richness of natural life, on the one hand, and, on the other, ethical life as consti tuted by a purely formal, rational imperative from the standpoint of which all p articularity is irrelevant. The wedding of the self-conscious and the natural, in which the lat ter is brought forth into daylight (274), is possible thanks to the special and even paradoxical character Hegel ascribes to the family, which is one of two ethical powers or institutions encompassed by the larger community, the other being the state. Hegel calls the family the "nat ural ethical community" (268), and the reasons for this designation are clear. For the family (and ultimately the ethical community) to fulfill its function as conceptual mediator, it must be both natural and ethical - it must be firmly rooted in the differences and relations.given by nature and also clearly transcend them. The family can play this role within the ethical community thanks to its own mixed but har monious nature, for the family is the unity- or marriage - of "univer sal Self-conscious Spirit" with its "element, " "unconscious Spirit" that is, of man with woman (278) . This marriage between nature and spirit, between woman and man, however, does not in itself suffice to heal the rift between the natural and the rational. It merely displaces it, so that it becomes a

66 + IDENTIFICATION, TRAGEDY, AND THE SUBLIME rift within the family rather than one between an abstract moral imperative and actual existence. It is not enough that one set of family members - the women - should exemplify nature and another set- the men - should exemplify reason as the ethical principle; for if this is true, then the family cannot fulfill its mediating function but is itself divided. In attempting to mediate between the ethical/rational and the natural, Hegel is thus caught in a double bind. While the logic of his argument dictates that the family be comprised of natural and eth ical elements, it also necessitates that he demonstrate the ethical and therefore implicitly rational character of women and of the divine law that ultimately regulates their relationship to the family. The uncon scious force that women represent must be primarily natural and also primarily ethical if the family itself is to be ethical. Both arguments are a logical consequence of Hegel's position; both are needed if there is to be a reconciliation of the natural and the rational . However, the validity and necessity of both make such a reconciliation impossible; for if the family as a whole represents the ethical principle, then the opposition within the family between the natural and the ethical divides the ethical from itself- it becomes an opposition within the ethical itself understood as the Absolute. The relationship between brother and sister most clearly reveals the ethical character of the family, and the sister herself possesses "the highest intuitive awareness of what is ethical" (274) . The absolute position Hegel assigns to Antigone in relation to both ethics and art relates directly to this point, inasmuch as the character of Antigone herself represents this intuitive ethical sense and thus signifies/effects the reconciliation of nature and reason toward which (classical) ethics and (classical) art both tend. Antigone represents such awareness because, while her femininity ties her strongly to nature, her relation ship to her brother is the most nonnatural of all family relationships in Hegel's words, it is "pure and unmixed with any natural desire" (275) . Derrida comments on this passage that "in truth sexual differ ence is still needed, a sexual difference that is sexual as such and nonetheless without desire" (Glas, 169). But Derrida goes on to ask: "Is it impossible? Is it in contradiction with the whole system? Are we any longer in the natural sphere of the Sittlichkeit (the family) once sex ual difference is superseded?" (169) . 22 Indeed, nowhere does the dia lectic seem further removed from the natural ethical community and closer to a Kantian community based on the disinterested nature of

H E GEL, KANT, AND ANTIGONE + 67 desire or will than with the pure relation between Antigone and her brother. Antigone thus exemplifies the non-natural or purely ethical dimen sion of the natural ethical substance with particular force and clarity, but, as Derrida notes, this same ethical quality is frequently dis cussed without Antigone being expressly named. In this manner Hegel indicates that her ethical character is not specific to her alone but is, rather, the essence of woman-in-general: "In the ethical house hold, it is not a question of this p articular husband, this particular child, but simply of husband and children generally; the relation ships of the woman are based, not on feeling, but on the universal" (Phenomenology, 274) . Against his dominant argument, Hegel is thus obliged to argue that as ethical being, the woman's relation to nature, that is, to feeling and desire, is negative - every bit as negative as that of the man in his role as citizen, which takes him out of the family and into the self-conscious activity of the state. Whereas initially it appeared that the ethical finds a natural expres sion in the life of the family, the picture changes as Hegel advances in his analysis. The great majority of the activities associated with family life as a whole are only, it turns out, expressions of natural desires and feelings, which are accidental in relation to this ethicity. In the ultimate analysis only one concrete act realizes the ethical character of the family, and that is the performance by Antigone of rites whose purpose is to protect her dead brother from being devoured by wild animals and corrupted by natural processes. Antigone's deed is not merely prompted by feeling for another member of her family: in the context of family life it is the foremost ethical duty, and in performing it, she gives expression to the ethical nature of the family as a whole: "Blood-relationship supplements, then, the abstract natural process [of death] by adding to it the movement of consciousness, interrupt ing the work of Nature and rescuing the blood-relation from destruc tion" (271) . The ultimate expression of the ethicity of the woman and of the family is this interruption of "the work of Nature." Though implicitly it is only thanks to it that the woman and the family can be said to be ethical as well as natural, this passage reveals that the eth ical character of the family consists precisely in a negation of nature. The natural ethical community, which at first glance seemed to repre sent a marriage of the ethical and the natural, now appears as an oxy moron. Though a major purpose of Hegel's interpretation of Antigone

68 + IDENTI F ICATION, TRAGEDY, AND THE SUBLIME is to root the ethical in natural life, its result is to reveal the pro foundly non-natural character of the family, the ethical, and Antig one, the woman, as well . Despite the distinctions Hegel lays down between the woman and the man, his discussion of Antigone reveals that the various elements of the family are all equally ethical and thus equally rational. The fem inine form or embodiment of the ethical cannot be any less ethical, any more natural than the masculine, because the ethical resides in the negation of nature and is not a question of degree of proximity to nature. From this perspective, the conflict between Antigone and Creon appears to be rooted not in the difference between (her) nature and (his) reason but rather in their shared ethicity and rationality, and in this sense it cannot be resolved in terms of the underlying har mony or unity of the ethical substance. Of course, Hegel himself seems to say as much when he writes that in the ethical community "the two sexes overcome their [merely] nat ural being and appear in their ethical significance, as diverse beings who share between them the two distinctions belonging to the ethical substance" (275) . That Hegel is unwilling to assume the ultimate impli cations of this shared ethicity is evident, however, when he character izes the ethical character of Antigone as intuitive and the ethical life of the family as "strictly speaking, negative" (275) -that is, when he seeks to establish a difference within Antigone (and thus within the family) that would allow her (and it) to mediate nonetheless between the natural and the ethical. But the revelation of the non-natural char acter of the ethicity of Antigone, as exemplified in her performance of the religious rites for her dead brother, undercuts the distinction between an intuitive (or natural) and a self-conscious (that is, rational) ethicity. It shows that the conflict in Antigone is sublime in the sense that it pits not only nature against reason but also, more importantly, reason against itself. The conflict in Antigone is absolute for the same reason it is sub lime: because the ethical community is touched by this conflict and hence itself already tragic even prior to the outbreak of the properly dramatic clash between individuals. Despite Hegel's dominant argu ment, what emerges in his interpretation of Antigone is not just the philosophical version of the dialectic of tragedy, but rather also, along side it, another dialectic, which interrupts the dynamic process both of the ethical community and of speculative philosophy. The action in

HE GEL, KANT, AND ANTIGONE + 69 this other version of the dialectic of tragedy is no longer encompassed by the environment of an immaculate ethical community, and the "mere difference of [its] constituents" can no longer be seen as having been "perverted [my emphasis] into opposition and collision' ' (Hegel, Aesthetics, 1196) - because in it opposition and collision have been revealed instead to be the very substance of the community and an irreducible dimension of the sexual. Kant's sublime aesthetics and ethics are thus as present in Antigone as Hegel's version of aesthetics and ethics. This means that Antigone represents not only a means by which to posit, negate, retain, and raise aesthetics and ethics to a higher level, but also a necessary risk of regression toward a phase of the dialectic in which the theoretical is continually disrupted by the aesthetic and ethical. When the prob lematic aspects of Hegel's interpretation of Antigone are stressed, it becomes apparent that aesthetic and ethical questions belong to phi losophy as Hegel argues, but in a manner different from the one he suggests. Not only can they be resolved in and as philosophy, as Hegel holds, but also, philosophy is divided from itself by the aes thetic and the ethical -that is, divided between a Kantian and a Hegel ian version of itself (and of tragedy), between a dialectic that effects reconciliation of opposing ethical and aesthetic claims and a dialectic that (re)engenders their conflict. The claim of philosophy to be an inescapable starting point in defining the nature of tragedy is con firmed, but philosophy no longer appears as the only starting point, and the philosophical interpretation of tragedy no longer appears as the only necessary or the ultimate interpretation . The fundamental nature of identification is confirmed in a similarly ambiguous manner by Hegel's reading of Antigone. Identification links the two sexes together, but it also pits them against each other, dividing them because their conflict is between equally ethical powers. The other is the same as well as other, and this contradictory logic does not immediately or necessarily result in harmony and reconcili ation. It is no longer self-evident that the Hegelian version of iden tification, in which the contrasting parties or terms involved in the process of identification are authenticated by it, is the more funda mental version. The unity it grows out of and perpetuates now ap pears as superficial, or at any rate, only one aspect of a more complex relationship and process. Equally important, the aesthetic, or, in Hegel's terms, art and in par-


ticular Antigone no longer appear as the immediate expression of an ethical/aesthetic community and of a sexual harmony based on the sublation of the differing natures of the sexes. Instead, tragedy emerges as the philosophical figure for forms of the sexual, the ethical, and the aesthetic that lie outside or beyond philosophy.

The Interrupted Dialectic of Modern Tragedy: Hegel, Corneille, and the Feminine Challenge to Aufhebung
It is Corneille who has done the greatest hann and exercised the most pernicious influence on these tragedians. Racine only seduced by his example, Corneille by his examples and doctrines together.
- Lessing

In a dream I saw myself in Goethe's study. . . . The side of the writing desk abutted on the wall opposite the window. Sitting and writing at one side was the poet, in extreme old age. I was stand ing at one side when he broke off to give me a small vase, an urn from antiquity, as a present. I turned it between my hands. An immense heat filled the room.
-Walter B enjamin

Art, Philosophy, and Modern Tragedy

As we have seen, tragedy (and Antigone in particular) plays an ambig uous role in Hegel's version of aesthetics, ethics, and philosophy. On the one hand, it represents a means by which to posit, negate, retain, and raise art to a higher level. On the other, it also represents a nec essary risk of regression toward a phase of the dialectic in which the aesthetic can be seen continually to disrupt the theoretical. This dis ruption, it should be recalled, occurs not because A ntigone lies beyond the reach of philosophy or because the philosophical interpre tation that Hegel gives of it has no plausibility. Rather, it occurs because the aesthetic is neither wholly different from nor identical to philosophy and because Antigone lends itself equally well to two opposing interpretations, one emphasizing resolution of conflict in


terms of its dialectical nature, the other underlining the ultimate irre solvability of its radically conflictual character. As we have also seen, tragedy is not just one genre among others for Hegel; it is the genre of genres, and Antigone, the exemplary trag edy, is in essence the exemplary work of art . And though, as I have argued, tragedy fails him when he attempts to use it as the instru ment with which to reconcile philosophy and art, the logic that con fers such a special status on tragedy is so strong that Hegel turns again to tragedy in a renewed attempt to resolve the conflict between art and philosophy in the terms of philosophy. Only this time, he turns not to ancient but to modern tragedy, not to Antigone but to


+ 73

In the terms of Hegel's system of fme art, the dialectical role played by modern tragedy relates directly to the particular role played by modern art as a whole in mediating between art and philosophy. Modern art or, as Hegel calls it, romantic art, can mediate between art itself and philosophy because its own nature is a fusion of art and phi losophy. If we want to understand and see such a fusion in concrete terms, all we have to do is look at modern, especially German art: "In our day, in the case of almost all peoples, criticism, the cultivation of reflection, and in our German case, freedom of thought have mas tered the artists too."1 But though the fusion of art and philosophy is argued to be a sim ple matter when we look at modern German culture, when consid ered from a conceptual perspective, it is, on the contrary, highly complex and difficult. In bringing art and philosophy together, mod ern art is obliged to be a "self-transcendence of art but within its own sphere and in the form of art itself" (8o) . Modern art, it seems, can rec oncile art and philosophy only at a very great cost to itself, since it must transcend art itself in order to do this. But what is equally difficult is that it must accomplish this self-transcendence while remaining in its own sphere. With H egel's concept of modern art, the tension between art and philosophy appears to be at a maximum. But given the logic of the dialectic, the attainment of such a maximum can be taken as the sign that a fundamental reconciliation has occurred in and through the concept of modern art. Hegel's concept of modern tragedy is assigned a function similar to that of modern art as a whole in reconciling art and philosophy, and because of the particular nature that Hegel ascribes to modern trag-

edy, it also serves to elaborate the terms in which such reconciliation can take place. The dialectical role of modern tragedy is evident in Hegel's treatment of what for him is the fundamental element distin guishing ancient dramatic poetry from the modern: character. In a sig nificant departure from Aristotle's Poetics, Hegel's philosophy of tragedy n:akes character the principal element of drama as a whole and modern drama in particular. According to Hegel, dramatic poetry "must, in the first place, like epic, bring before us a happening, a deed, an action; but its fust step must be, above all, to strip externals away and put in their place as the ground and cause of everything the self-conscious and active individual" (u6o) . As in Aristotle's Poetics, drama is still defined by Hegel as the imitation ("bringing before us") of an action . But action itself has ceased to be more important than character, as Aristotle held it to be. 2 Instead, character, the individual character, has become the ground of everything. Character plays the central role in Hegel's analysis of modern trag edy because of its inherently philosophical or dialectical nature. In other words, the work of the dialectic in negating, retaining, and rais ing the preceding stage of art to a higher level will be c arried out by this crucial element of dramatic p oetry. Character, however, can only do this if it becomes modern, that is, if the modern playwright deline ates it with greater intensity and attaches greater aesthetic (and ethi cal) importance to it than the ancient playwrights did. In the case of ancient tragedy, as we h ave seen, character does the work of the dia lectic by introducing conflict into the previously harmonious ethical substance. But the individual in this case is a still abstract version of individuality, defined only by an identification with one of the ethical powers and not by his or her "subjective inner life" (Hegel, Aesthetics, 1223) . Hegel compares the heroes of ancient drama to works of sculp ture in order to indicate not only their great beauty and grandeur but also their abstraction as compared to the heroes of modern drama (1195). Implicitly, the individual in ancient tragedy plays such a differ ent role than the individual in modern drama because of this relative abstraction. By introducing conflict into the ethical substance (the ancient con ception of) character does a part of the work of the dialectic. But only in the case of modern drama does character perform the whole of the work of the dialectic by achieving reconciliation . This means that only in modern drama is character revealed to us in its fully developed,


concrete form . In modern drama, "there comes before our contempla tion . . . the victory of [the characters'] own subjective personality which nevertheless persists self-assured" (1199). Conflict, which is only precipitated by the individual character in ancient tragedy, is overcome by the modern tragic hero, not just at the level of the action of specific plays but at the level of modern tragedy as a whole. In a passage that condenses the modern sense of character into a single image and also shows us its dialectical power, Hegel writes: "The intensity and depth of subjectivity come all the more to light, the more endlessly and tremendously is it divided against itself, and the more lacerating are the contradictions in which it still has to remain fum in itself" (178). The individual character in all its intensity and depth can be revealed only if it is divided against itself and beset by contradictions, but it is revealed in this situation precisely because it remains firm in the face of it. The notion of firmness, which plays the central role in Hegel's discussion of character, is brought forward here in terms that explain why it is a philosophical or dialectical and not just a psychological concept. The individual character, the central element of modern drama, negates, retains, and raises to a higher level conflict and contradiction, and thereby elevates the subject from a still relatively undeveloped to a much more concrete, more fully mediated form. In this sense, modern drama not only differs from ancient drama but, even more, becomes what every historical stage in Hegel's system is in relation to the preceding stage : its Aufhebung. In other words, character, conceived in terms of or as the private individ ual with his or her inner feelings, is already in itself the theoretical or philosophical sublation of the ancient. Hegel's striking and lapidary thesis concerning art--"Art, consid ered in its highest vocation, is and remains for us a thing of the past" (u) -- should be interpreted in terms of the dialectical force he ascribes to modern art and in particular to modern tragedy. As Heidegger is quick to point out in the epilogue to "The Origin of the Work of Art, " in positing his thesis concerning the pastness of art, Hegel "never meant to deny [the] possibility" of the coming into existence of "new art works and new art movements:'3 One can go further, however, and say that not only does Hegel have no intention of denying the possibility of a modern or, one could even claim, a post-modern art . He is not even denying the importance of such an art. On the con trary, with his thesis concerning the pastness of art he indicates the



value he attaches to ancient art as art itself but also, indirectly, the equally great--if not greater--value he attaches to modern art because of its more properly philosophical and dialectical rather than purely aesthetic character. In the last analysis, art "in its highest vocation is . . . for us a thing of the past," because the vocation of modern art and modern tragedy is not art but philosophy, not the correspondence of form and idea but the transcendence of form by idea. The vocation of modern art is no longer the highest vocation to which art can aspire, but, for just that reason, modern art should be considered to have an even higher vocation, insofar as it p aves the way for the sublation of art by philos ophy. In the self-assurance with which the hero of modern tragedy persists in the face of even the most lacerating contradictions, we can already see modern philosophy itself beginning to emerge. The notion of modern tragedy is thus ineluctable in the terms of the dialectic of art, because of the way it both retains ancient, tragic art and also begins to raise art to the level of philosophy. As has already been suggested, the concept of modern art is effective in bridging the gap between art and philosophy because it also exemplifies the tension between them thanks to its highly para doxical nature as a "self-transcendence of art but within its own sphere:' But at moments, the dual nature of modern art and, in par ticular, of modern tragedy seems on the verge of becoming outright contradiction or even paradox and hence of failing to perform its dia lectical function. One such moment is when Hegel attempts to situate tragedy in relation to the historical-conceptual framework of the Aes thetics. In the passage in which he formulates the relation of the generic difference between tragedy and comedy with the historical difference between the ancient and the modern, he indicates that trag edy is essentially ancient: The same principle which gave us the basis for the division of dra matic art into tragedy and comedy provides us with the essential turning-points in the history of their development. For the lines of this development can only consist in setting out and elaborating the chief features implicit in the nature of dramatic action, where in tragedy the whole treatment and execution presents what is sub stantial and fundamental in the characters and their aims and conflicts, while in comedy the central thing is the character's inner life and his private personality. (Hegel, Aesthetics, 1205)

76 + THE INTERRUPTED D IALECTIC OF MODERN TRAGEDY The division between tragedy and comedy corresponds with the historical turning point dividing the ancient from the modern, the substantial from the properly individual. This means that, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as ancient comedy and, by the same token, no such thing as modern tragedy, or, at the very least, that modern tragedy is an inferior, essentially "comic" version of tragedy. The logic of this historical-generic framework is thus consistent with the more inclusive logic of modern art as a whole : as we might expect, tragedy, like art, is a thing of the past. But Hegel defines the historical and conceptual framework of the Aesthetics in just the opposite manner when he makes character the "ground and cause of everything" not just in modern drama, but in drama as a whole. If character is indeed the central feature in tragedy, then ancient tragedy appears to be at best a defective version of trag edy bordering on the untragic: 't its plastic height in Greece, trag edy remains one-sided by making the validity of the substance and necessity of ethical life its essential basis and by leaving undeveloped the individuality of the dramatis personae and the depths of their per sonal life" (1222). Modern tragedy thus reveals itself to be the most authentic form of tragedy because it "adopts into its own sphere from the start the principle of subjectivity" (1223). The idea that modern rather than ancient tragedy better exem plifies tragedy as a whole is also implicit in Hegel's decision to place his discussion of tragedy under the heading of the Romantic rather than the classical arts. The reasons why tragedy should be discussed in this concluding section of the Aesthetics and, even more, in the con cluding pages of this section itself are clear, though they are at odds with the equally compelling reasons that caused him to equate trag edy with the ancient. If tragedy is to be the highest form of art, and modern tragedy in particular is to be the form of tragedy that pre pares the way for the transcendence of art by philosophy, then it is fitting that tragedy as a whole be designated the highest and last stage in the dialectical unfolding of the concept and history of art nar rated in the Aesthetics. But such a designation implies that tragedy as a whole is modern and that ancient tragedy is therefore a lesser form of (modern) tragedy. The contradictory manner in which Hegel situates modern tragedy both in historical and conceptual terms of course relates directly to the complex nature of the reconciliation that modern tragedy is sup-



posed to effect between art and philosophy- and also between the ancient and the modern. But now, instead of appearing just difficult, that reconciliation appears radically problematic, if not impossible. Modern tragedy and ancient tragedy each have an equal but incom patible claim to represent tragedy as a whole, with the result that trag edy can be argued to belong as much to the age of philosophy as to the age of art. This seemingly irresolvable clash, in which each ap pears to be the potential sublation of the other, threatens to contami nate both tragedy and philosophy. In other 'Nards, it threatens to make tragedy and art as a whole irreducibly modern and hence philo sophical -to make both things of the present. But it also threatens to reduce modern tragedy to a form of ancient tragedy and, in the proc ess, to undermine the integrity of philosophy itself, making it what it has pronounced tragedy to be: a thing of the p ast. In the light of Hegel's difficulty in deciding to what age tragedy belongs, the radically contradictory nature of the notion of modern tragedy begins to emerge. It no longer appears as the most sensitive but nonetheless most successful link between art and philosophy but appears, rather, as a highly unstable border zone in which the two meet, conflict, and are contaminated by each other.

The "Quarrel" between the Moderns: Corneille and Shakespeare in Hegel's Aesthetics
The passages from the Aesthetics focusing on individual works of mod ern tragedy reinforce what emerges in Hegel's more general discus sion of the distinctions between the genres of dramatic literatur and the historical periods - a sense of the impossibility of establishing with any rigor the boundaries delimiting the ancient and the mod ern, art and philosophy. In broadest terms, the general impression given by these passages is that Hegel is engaged in a struggle with his immediate predecessors and contemporaries to determine at what point the ancient and the modern begin and end and, equally impor tant, how to situate the age of (the) philosophy (of tragedy) in relation to these two ages in the history of art. The Oedipal dimension of this struggle is fairly obvious. It is clearly one to determine who is the legit imate modern heir of the Greeks, and as a result, what is unresolved and ambiguous in it is Hegel's relationship both to ancient tragedy


and also to those other modern figures whose work, like that of Hegel, is born as tragedy dies its seemingly interminable death . For very different reasons, Shakespeare and Corneille are two of the most important of these modern figures. When read against the back ground of Hegel's problematic concept of modern tragedy, the con trast Hegel implicitly draws between their works appears as an attempt to neutralize the destabilizing effects that the contradictory _ nohon of modern tragedy would otherwise have on the philosophy of art as a whole. ugh Hegel criticizes the French on several grounds, the specific . ? cnhctsm he makes of Corneille is that his heroes (like those of Racine) do not display the firmness of character Hegel requires in the best examples of dramatic poetry. If a character is not "one in himself, " Hegel argues, "the different aspects of his diverse characteristics fall apart." The result is not only that the hero becomes "senseless and n:eaningless" (240), but also that he becomes incapable of playing the dialectical role assigned to him in the Aesthetics.

HEGEL, CORNEILLE, AND THE FEMI NINE CHALLE NGE + 79 classical tragedy as a whole. In the French plays, he writes, "a sort of dialectical machinery" is inserted "into the individual's own charac ter" (1229) . This construal of character, Hegel argues, is "what is worst of all, " and it produces, not a true but rather "a sort of perverse and sophistical dialectic" (1229). The full force of Hegel's negative assessment of Corneille becomes apparent only when one contrasts it with his judgment of Shake speare, the modern dramatist he holds to be supreme. Though there are a number of points on which Shakespeare is compared favorably to other dramatists, when one considers the central importance Hegel attaches to character, it comes as no surprise that Shake speare's supremacy is most apparent in precisely this respect. In the portrayal of concretely human individuals and characters it is especially the English who are distinguished masters and above them all Shakespeare stands at an almost unapproachable height. (1227) Such a purely self-dependent individual rests on himself and in this firmness either realizes himself or perishes . . . . Shake speare's characters especially are of this kind; in them it is pre cisely this taut firmness and one-sidedness that is supremely admirable. (577) Because of his masterful depiction of character, the plays of Shake speare are held by Hegel to be not just excellent examples of modern tragedy but the standard by which all modern dramatic poetry should be judged. Shakespeare is supreme in his depiction of character, but Hamlet occupies the position in relation to Shakespeare's other plays that those plays, taken as a group, occupy in relation to modern drama as a whole. The prince of Denmark is not just one hero among others for Hegel; he is clearly the modern tragic hero. When Hegel wants to illus trate his thesis concerning the difference between the ancient and the modern tragic hero, he need only refer to Shakespeare's Hamlet in order to feel he has fully justified his point: "In order to exhibit in more detail the difference ,in this respect [that is, with respect to char acter] between Greek and modern tragedy, I will direct attention only to Shakespeare's Hamlet" (1225-26). The failure of the French to equal Shakespeare in their depiction of character is thus far-reaching in its implications, for it makes of him, not the French, the true heir of

In Corneille's Cid, the collision of love and honor plays a brilliant part. Such a "pathos"4 in different characters can of course lead to conflicts; but when it is introduced as an inner opposition in one and the same character, this provides an opportunity for splendid rhetoric and affecting monologues, but the diremption of one and the same heart, which is tossed hither and thither out of the abstraction of honor into that of love, and vice versa, is inherently contrary to solid decisiveness and unity of character.

The Ieference to Rodrigue's monologue in act 1, scene 5, is clear. Given the central importance Hegel attaches to character, the inner opposition that Rodrigue demonstrates in this scene - an inner oppo sition that Hegel interprets as the infallible sign of a lack of firmness and self-assuranc e - is not just one flaw among others. From the stand point of the Aesthetics, it is the fatal flaw from which no drama can be rescued, not even by "splendid rhetoric and affecting monologues :' Because, in the case of Le Cid, conflict afflicts not just the tragic uni verse but the hero himself, the play as a whole fails to perform the dia lectical role assigned to it by the philosophy of art. But this negative version of the tragic hero corresponds to another, negative version of the dialectic, which, according to Hegel, is exemplified in French neo-

8o + THE I NTERRUPTED D IALECTIC O F MODERN TRAGEDY Sophocles and Aeschylus, even if he must reinvent the notion and concept of character in order to show himself worthy of them. Hegel's argument is structured in such a way that Hamlet ought, therefore, to be a model of the firmness, decisiveness, and unity that Hegel argues are characteristic of the modern tragic hero in general . In certain passages in the Aesthetics, Hegel does indeed argue that this is the case, despite some indications to the contrary. "Hamlet, " he writes, in an apparent response to Goethe, "indeed is indecisive in himself, yet he was not doubtful about what he was to do, but only how" (244) . In another long passage in which he discusses Hamlet's firmness, or lack of it, Hegel first asserts that "Hamlet's nature is weak in practice; his beautiful heart is indrawn, " but then he goes on to argue in the concluding lines of the same passage: "Hamlet hesitates because he does not blindly believe in the ghost . . . . Hamlet doubts, and, by arrangements of his own, will get certainty for himself, before he embarks on action'' (231) . Though these passages do not immedi ately confirm Hegel's claims that Shakespeare's heroes are distin guished by a "taut firmness and one-sidedness, " they still are not wholly in contradiction with it. They still can be seen as consistent with a view that Hamlet remains at bottom firm and decisive, even if he is superficially and initially vacillating and torn by contradiction. At other moments, however, the idea that Hamlet's firmness of char acter leads him to triumph over an initial doubt or uncertainty is simply contradicted. Hamlet appears no longer as an example of firmness, but rather as one of "character as inner but undeveloped totality" (s8o) : But such a deep tranquil heart, which keeps its energy of soul pent up like the spark in the flint, which does not give itself out ward form, and which does not develop its existence and reflec tion on it . . . remains exposed to the grim contradiction of having no skill, no bridge to reconcile its heart with reality and so to ward off external circumstances, to be supported against them, and to be its own support . . . . So, e.g., Hamlet. (583) Hegel's description of Shakespeare's hero has a familiar ring for more than one reason. Like other of his references to Hamlet, it recalls Goethe's interpretation of Shakespeare's play and its hero. It also very clearly evokes his own description in the Phenomenology of "the beau tiful soul, " who, like Goethe's Hamlet, is a figure of anything but firmness and decisiveness:

H E GEL, CORNEILLE , AND THE FEMININE C HALLENGE + 81 The "beautiful soul, " lacking an actual existence, entangled in the contradiction between its pure self and the necessity of that self to externalize itself and change itself into an actual existence, and dwelling in the immediacy of this fumly held antithesis, . . . being conscious of this contradiction in its unreconciled imme diacy, is disordered to the point of madness, wastes itself in yearning and pines away in consumption. 5 This picture of Hamlet no longer leaves any room for an eventual reas sertion of his unity of character, of his firmness in the face even of the most "lacerating" contradictions. When presented as an example of "inner but undeveloped totality, " Hamlet's disorder appears no less serious than the "diremption' ' of Rodrigue; and the contradiction between the "pure self" and "the necessity of that self to externalize itself" appears no less inimical to decisiveness and firmness of char acter than the contradiction between love and honor. On the face of it, Hegel's vacillation in relation to Hamlet is very difficult to understand. His whole system would seem to make it imperative that Hamlet be a model of firmness, because only in that case can modern tragedy perform its dialectical function of negating and retaining ancient tragedy and also serve as the intermediate link between (ancient) art and (modern) philosophy. Moreover, Hegel him self does at times find a way of arguing that in the most fundamental terms Hamlet is indeed firm and decisive. The question is, Why does Hegel not consistently hold this to be the case; Why does he at times interpret Hamlet's character in the opposite manner- as totally "ex posed to grim contradiction'' without any bridge to reconcile it?. The answer can only be that at some level Hegel also "wants" Ham let to be like Rodrigue, an inferior version of the modern hero, unable to perform his dialectical work. In other words, he wants to negate what he started out affirming-the philosophical character of modern art - because there is something threatening as well as desirable about it. All modern tragedy-whether that of Corneille, Racine, Shakespeare, or others who figure in the Aesthetics - is potentially the ally and even in a sense the instrument of philosophy in its reflection of and on the ancient. But all modern tragedy is also potentially the rival of philosophy, inasmuch as the task it performs is vital to philos ophy itself. What is threatening about modern tragedy is that through its depiction of character it may already have completed the work of philosophy, it may already in itself represent the ultimate

.32 + .THE INTERRUPTE D D IALECTIC O F MODERN TRAGEDY "transcendence of form by idea'' and the "end of art" that philosophy claims it alone can represent. Modern tragedy must do its job of link ing philosophy to art, but it must not do it tob well. It must be like phi losophy, but not too much like philosophy. In the light of his contra dictory interpretations of Hamlet, Hegel's criticisms of Le Cid appear to be a projection of the negative element in his relation to Shakespeare. They appear, in other words, to have less to do with Corneille's play and more to do with Hegel's own uneasy relation to Shakespeare and to modern tragedy in general. One could argue according to the logic, though not the letter, of Hegel's Aesthetics that the modern tragic hero can take two forms. One is an explicitly negative form in which he is no more than the expression of a "perverse and sophistical dialectic" (Aesthetics, 1229), and in which as a result he produces no authentic reconciliation, as Hegel holds is the case in the plays of Corneille. The other is an appar ently positive form in which we see a "victory [of his] own subjective personality which nevertheless persists self-assured" (1191). In fact, however, both of these results are undesirable. In the first case, art becomes less than art or an inferior- that is, not genuinely dialec tical-version of art. In the second case, art becomes more than art - a philosophy- as-art i n which the subjectivity of the hero does the work of the dialectic and thereby threatens to complete the work of philos ophy before the age of philosophy has begun. "Corneille" is the name Hegel gives to the first case; "Shake speare" is the name he gives to the second . But in a deeper sense, Shakespeare is Corneille, that is to say, Shakespeare also exemplmes a negative concept of modern tragedy, or at any rate, the negativity inherent in the concept of modern tragedy. His Hamlet raises the pos sibility that the reconciliation between art and philosophy takes place in the terms of tragedy rather than philosophy and thus serves to undermine the distinction(s) between tragedy and philosophy, the ancient and the modern, through which Hegel seeks to assure the eventual transcendence and triumph, if not of Hamlet-Rodrigue, then of philosophy itself. Given the contradictory nature of Hegel's interpretation of the character of Hamlet, that character comes to rep resent as much the return of the ancient and the tragic as it does the victory of the modern and the philosophical, because in it the mod ern and the philosophical can only triumph as tragedy.


Corneille and the Modern Tragic Hero: Horace Confronted by Camille

Despite the almost uniformly critical nature of Hegel's remarks on the French theater in general and Corneille in particular, Corneille's criti cal texts and plays contain important parallels with the theory of trag edy that Hegel elaborates in the Aesthetics. Though they diverge on a number of specmc points, Corneille and Hegel nonetheless share something on the order of a common and uneasy theoretical condi tion in which they are placed because of their interest in tragedy in general and modern tragedy in particular, and this common condi tion ultimately accounts for the deeper parallels in their work. Corneille's problem, like Hegel's, is to develop a concept of modern tragedy that can both account for its specific character and permit it to be seen as another version of (ancient) tragedy. The solution to this problem, in Corneille's case as in that of Hegel, is found in a dialecti cal concept of modern tragedy and of the modern tragic hero. In the terms of both his critical writings and his plays, Corneille's concept of modern trage dy can be said to negate, retain, and raise ancient trag edy to a higher level, and thus to reconcile the ancient and the mod ern in terms of a movement that progresses in the direction of the modern. When one considers the dialectical intention that is the guid ing force in both Corneille's critical writings and his tragedies, the crit icisms Hegel makes of Le Cid in particular and French tragedy in general are placed in a highly ironic light: if they are at all just, then they must also apply with equal force to the G erman or Hegelian version of tragedy. From the perspective of Corneille, the nature of tragedy can be understoo d only if it can first be determined whether tragedy is past or present, ancient or modern. An exact appreciation of the ancients and of their theory and practice of tragedy is thus as important for Corneille as for Hegel . Corneille and Hegel diverge, however, in terms of the importance they attach, at least explicitly, to Aristotle's Poetics. Cor neille reaches his theoretical conclusions concerning tragedy through a detailed commentary and discussion of Aristotle's text, whereas Hegel devotes only a few lines to the Poetics in the Aesthetics. But though they differ in this respect, in the end, Corneille's discussion of the Poetics produces a result- and a dilemma - similar to the one that emerges from Hegel's discussion of modern art and modern tragedy.


Corneille's three Discours and even an earlier critical text such as the '1\vertissement" of 1648 to Le Cid show that his views concerning the importance of Aristotle were not simply imposed on him by a repres sive, rule-conscious literary milieu. In the '1\vertissement, " he rejects the help of those who defend Le Cid with the argument that Aristotle's rules for tragedy are no longer applicable in the modern age. They have committed a serious poetic error, one that "is no less injurious to Aris totle than to mysel."6 And yet, important though the Poetics is in defining tragedy for Corneille, the most casual reader of his three "Dis cours" on tragedy and the "Examens" that preface the published ver sions of his own plays is immediately struck by his ambivalence, both theoretical and practical, in relation to the Poetics and to ancient trag edy in general. Aristotle and the ancients as a group are frequently portrayed, as in the '1\vertissment" to Le Cid, as occupying a commanding position in relation to tragedy, and the wisdom of the modern tragedian consists only in recognizing their supremacy and trying to work within the boundaries they fixed for tragic poetry. In the same '1\vertissement/' Corneille goes on to say of Aristotle, "This great man treated poetics with so much skill and judgment that the precepts he has left to us are for all times and for all peoples" (1:725). His position in the three Dis cours is more nuanced, but the dominant tendency is to discover, through a close and judicious reading of the Poetics, the true Aristotle, whose precepts properly interpreted are as relevant in the modern era as they were in ancient times. Corneille's ambivalence toward the Poetics is also evident, however, in this more nuanced reading, and it comes to the fore in relation to the Aristotelian concept of catharsis. Corneille admits in his "Discours de la tragedie, " a text that could with equal justice be called the Discourse on Catharsis, that he does not really understand what Aristotle means by this term . He adds, "I am quite afraid that the reasoning of Aristotle on this point may be no more than a beautiful idea, which never had l"7 The purgation of fear and pity by the an effect in reality [la verite arousal of fear and pity is not the only aspect of catharsis Corneille can not fathom. Equally problematic for him is the association of pity and fear in the cathartic process. Neither the examples adduced by Aristo tle nor Aristotle's own discussion enlighten Corneille as to how the two emotions can be consistently associated, and he concludes by deciding that Aristotle must have meant that, in certain plays, fear alone is

HEG EL, CORNEILLE, AND THE FEMININE C HALLE NGE + 85 responsible for the cathartic effect, and in others, fear working in con nection with pity is responsible. If, in a third type of play, both emo tions are aroused, it seems eminently more sensible to Corneille that one, essentially bad character be the focus of the fear of the spectators (a fear of what would befall them if they performed similar deeds) and another, essentially good character be the focus of the spectators' pity ("Discours, " 1:38). This interpretation of catharsis relates to the other major point on which Corneiile is ready to depart from Aristotle: the crucial issue of character. By separating fear and pity, Corneille is able to defend the idea that a tragic hero can be all good, rather than neither "altogether innocent" nor "very bad" (1:39), as Aristotle requires. Even if he is all good, the play as a whole can still arouse both pity and fear. The fear may simply be aroused by another character (1:38). "Heraclius and Nicomede pleased the audience, even though they inspired only pity, and gave it nothing to fear, nor any passion to purge, because we saw them oppressed and ready to perish, without there being any fault on their part of which we might correct ourselves according to their exam ple" (1:36-37). The count in Le Cid, in contrast brings on his own down fall through his excessive pride and jealousy and thus can purge these emotions from the spectators (1:37), leaving Rodrigue free to arouse only pity. The division of labor between good and bad characters is clearly designed to facilitate the rationalization of catharsis. But an equally important function of this division is to defend Corneille's modern con cept of the tragic hero and of what, to borrow from Hegel, could1 be called his f1rmness of character, his ability to remain one even in the face of the most lacerating contradictions. Taken together, Corneille's arguments relating to catharsis undermine his assertion that Aristotle and ancient tragedy-is "for all times and for all peoples." They point to what are from his perspective both the limitations of Aristotle's Poet ics and the superiority of (Corneille's own) modern tragedies as com pared to those of the ancients. They also indicate that for Corneille, the implicit superiority of modern tragedy lies in the way it makes the firm and undivided individual the "ground and cause of everything." The contradictions in Corneille's reading of Aristotle's Poetics are not accidental, nor do they necessarily indicate that Corneille is a defective critic and theorist of dramatic poetry, as Lessing was to accuse. Instead, they stem from the theoretical situation in which he finds himself, and

86 + TH E I NTERRUPTED D IALECTIC OF MODERN TRAGEDY in this sense neither a Lessing nor a Hegel is more able to escape from or resolve these contradictions than Corneille. What underlies Corneille's vacillations is the tension within his own theory, and prac tice, between a modern and dialectical conception of tragedy based on character and an ancient or Aristotelian model based on what for him is the murky and self-contradictory concept of catharsis. Corneille, however, like Hegel, attempts to transcend the opposi tion between the ancient and the modern, and this is also evident in terms of his comments on Aristotle's concept of catharsis. What these comments show is that Corneille, despite his disavowal of catharsis, nonetheless attempts to salvage what from his point of view is essen tial in catharsis and in the Poetics as a whole. What is necessary is a positive form of identification that permits us as spectators to "correct ourselves according to [the] example of the tragic characters"; that is, to see ourselves in the good hero and reject, through fear, the model of behavior offered by the bad hero. According to the model of trag edy implied in such a positive form of identification, the central char acter in tragedy would no longer be a contradictory mixture of good and bad qualities, and spectators would be relieved of the correspond ing disorientation implied by the mixture of fear and pity in their own feelings. Aristotelian catharsis would be thus be conserved in relation to the tragic drama as a whole but, at the same time, transcended in the figure of the tragic hero. Corneille's implicit belief in the capacity of the modern hero to pro vide a satisfactory resolution even to what appear to be the most abso lute types of ethical and aesthetic conflict can be seen in his Oedipe. So, too, can his desire to use his conception of the tragic hero to resolve the poetic conflict between the ancient and the modern, to sublate these two terms in a virtually dialectical manner. Though Cor neille barely mentions the Oedipus of Sophocles in the three "Dis cours, " when he does, it is in connection with the central issue of identification. He notes that the character of Oedipus is cited by Aris totle as an example of one that inspires both fear and pity, but he avers that he does not understand why. Oedipus "does not seem to me to commit any fault, even though he kills his father, because he did not recognize him" (1:35) . The implication is clear. In a modern Oedipe- that is, one that would be based on a positive form of iden tification- Oedipus would be presented not as a bad or even partly


?us. He would thus good and partly bad character but, rather, as virtu pity alone. be an object not of fear and pity but, rather, of . drawn from ancient cter chara Of course, Oedipus is not the only doe, make such an tragedy in terms of which Corneille could, and . the Idea of acceptmg argument. Many of his "ancient" characters find sl commited to be responsibility for the deeds they have unconsciou y own vrrtue and their both repellent, s and in this sense they defend ess of charac firmn own their freedom to maintain their virtue - their Theseus puts it: ter- even in the face of a hostile destiny. As
What? the necessity of virtues and vices Must follow the capriciousness of an imperious star? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . eign law sover a ed: enslav y wholl thus is Th sui it. drags antly incess evil or Towards good . . . . . . . . . . . . sublime order this to e respit ut Attached witho s without crime .9 viciou and merit ut Virtuous witho
. . . . . .

of character - he Theseus cannot tolerate such a contradictory view from such an unrea asks to be excused from such a blindness, that is, can Corneille. That sonable belief (1. 1167, p. 580) - and clearly neither at the end of Co eyes own is why, when Oedipus gouges out his _ f for his h hImsel punis neille's play, he asserts that he is doing it not to _ _ t atti defian ss his criminal albeit unconscious acts, but, rather, to expre frightful destiny on tude toward the gods who have imposed this from their desotic him: to symbolize his freedom and autonomy _ . ous, undivided virtu laws and simultaneously to affirm his own ling's thesis that the nature. In a passage clearly anticipating Schel ely in the loss of hero of Greek tragedy "manifests his freedom precis that very same freed om," 10 Oedipe cries out: Let us see the cruel sky no longer, Take our vengeance upon it by disdaining its light Refuse it our eyes, but keep some life To show to all its tyranny. (Corneille, Oedipe, 11. 1991-94, p. 589) ut in a sirit that is all By carrying out the law of the gods to the letter b _ and _ moral mtegnty defiance of them, the tragic hero asserts both his (is he good or bad? his fundamental modernity. His moral equivocity

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good and bad?) is negated. He emerges with his virtue and his will intact, and the spectator can thus identify positively with him. Cor neille viewed Oedipe as his most artful play (Oedipe, 567), and this view is related no doubt to his sense that it successfully integrates his own modern conception of the virtuous and free hero into a plot and subject matter taken from what was for Aristotle the supreme exam ple of ancient tragedy. From the perspective of Corneille's sense of triumph in his Oedipe, his Horace represents a contrasting and highly significant moment in his work. When his critical texts and plays are read together, it is difficult to escape the impression that his ambivalence toward the ancients, and hence the equivocity of his own position as a modern, manifests itself more clearly in Horace than even in his theoretical texts and certainly more than in any other play he wrote, regardless of whether he deems the play a success or a failure. In the light both of Corneille's critical comments on the play and of the play itself, Horace appears as the point in his work where the l0gic of catharsis, the logic of a hero who is both good and bad, overtakes the modern hero and deprives him of his dialectical force. It does this essentially because the action of the play, despite Corneille's intentions, thrusts another tragic hero onto the stage, Horace's sister, Camille. In order to understand how the position of Horace is undermined by the character and actions of his sister, it is necessary to compare the passages in Corneille's play in which Camille figures most promi nently with his critical comments in the Examen and elsewhere relat ing to her character. Corneille's sense that Horace is a failure is directly related to what he sees as the disjunction between the first and sec ond halves of the play, and this disjunction is created by Camille's death . The second part of Horace, in particular, provides one of those very rare occasions when Corneille finds himself in violation of Aristotle's rules but where in his own estimate the artistic results do not justify him. "It is rather generally believed that this play could have been accepted as the most beautiful I have written if the later acts were up to the earlier ones. Everyone would have it that the death of Camille spoils the ending, and in this I agree."11 Corneille hastens to specify that Camille's death does not disfigure the play for the reason usually cited: because its horrible nature makes it invrai semblable, that is, something that may in fact have happened but ought not to be represented. The rule that the theatrical scene should

not be bloodied does not come down to us from Aristotle, Corneille notes, but is, rather, a more modern usage, which, as such, holds less authority. Corneille then goes on to spell out the true reason why Camille's murder flaws Horace: because it breaks Aristotle's rule con cerning the unity of action by subjecting Horace to what Corneille calls a second danger. Corneille's logic in this extremely nuanced defense and critique of Horace is even less straightforward than it sounds, however. In fact, his own interpretation of his play is much closer to his critics' than he indicates. Despite his (characteristic) defense of the idea that it is not against the rules to portray horrible acts on the stage (history, he frequently argues, takes precedence even over the vraisemblable), Cor neille does agree with his detractors that there is something scandal ous, morally and aesthetically, about Camille's death . If he argues that retaining the fact of Camille's death in his plot is not contrary to the rules, he also indirectly acknowledges the horror it inspires in him when he asserts that this is one of those facts that should not be represented on the stage. Corneille refuses to draw a line between his tory and his play. But he does draw a line between what happens on stage and what ought to happen offstage, and the logic of these two lines is essentially the same. In each case, it reflects an ethico-poetic decision whose function is to allay the ambivalence aroused by his play and more specifically by the scene in which Horace kills Camille. The specific nature of Corneille's ambivalence becomes clearer if one considers the criticisms he makes of the actors in the early pro ductions of Horace, in which the death of Camille was represented on stage. It should have been clear to them that the death ought to take place in the wings, according to Corneille, for "when she sees her brother put his sword in his hand, fright, which is so natural to her sex, must make her take flight and receive the deathblow off-stage" (1:830), as he noted explicitly in stage directions added to later printed editions of the play. Even if the actors did not have specific instruc tions to the effect that the murder was to take place in the wings, Cor neille indicates, they should have seen that that was what was re quired, given the dramatic situation and the sex of Camille. The contradiction between the interpretation Corneille gives of his play in these lines and the text of his play could not be more flagrant, however. His image of a naturally timid Camille, who would automat ically flee when confronted with the sudden and unexpected appear-



HEG EL, CORNEILLE, AND THE FEMININE CHALLENGE + 91 aces he has done his patriotic duty. If Rome is unworthy, if the state is n t the supreme authority and value, then Horace is just a mur derer. Thus, with her taunting "Rome, unique object of my resent ment!" (1. 1301, val. 1, p. 874), with "Rome" repeated in each of the four following lines, she pushes Horace to the point where he lses control completely and kills her. The result is to negate the subhme virtue he has just demonstrated in his triumph on the battlefield, and thus not only to interrupt the continuity of the action, but also to place the "virtuous" and supremely forceful character of Horace in contradiction with itself. Camille's firmness in relation to Horace places his character in an ambiguous light for another reason: because of what might be clled the law of family resemblance that obtains in the play. The logic of this law is already apparent in the opening scenes. When we are intro duced to both Sabine and then her brother, it quickly becomes appar ent that they share a distinctive family trait: both are characters who pity- themselves and others. The Horaces (that is, Horace, is father, and Camille) are similarly identifiable as members of a family thanks to the opposite trait: all are essentially immune to pity-for both them selves and others. In this play about the division between man and woman that underlies the ethical community (that is, in the terms of Corneille's play, the entity made up of both Rome and Alba), the fem inine principle of pity is represented by the Curiaces ad the macu line principle of force or virtue by the Horaces. Camil e, then, IS a Horace but a Horace as a Curiace. In other words, she IS a man, but she is man as a woman. As such, she represents what, in Horace's own name and his own character, opposes itself to Horace and lies beyond his control. Their conflict is so intense because it grows ou of a common identification with their family name and the masculme virtues it symbolizes. Equally important, the absolute intensity of their conflict also reveals that identification is, if not stronger, then at least as strong as the natural difference between the sexes, which according to Corneille should have made Camille flee when her brother drew his sword . Camille's death is thus troubling not only for the same reasons as any violent act (and Corneille regularly suppresses other violent acs that is, he relegates them to the wings -but without all the theoretical fuss he makes here). Given the way Corneille himself distorts his play and Camille's character when he argues that the murder ought

ance of her brother's sword and p resumably also by the possibility of her imminent death, simply does not correspond to the Camille of his play. In act 4, scene 4, Camille, alone on the stage, reaches a con scious decision to defy her brother when he returns home (and also her father, who has just told her she must now cease mourning her betrothed and focus exclusively on honoring her brother as the savior of his country): Degenerate, my heart, from such a virtu ous father; Be the unworthy sister of such a gene rous brother;
0 0

For this cruel victor show no respect; Far from avoiding him, rise up agai nst him when he appears; Offend his victory, irritate his wrath And take, if you can, pleasure in displeasi ng him. (II. 1239-48, vol. 1, pp. 872-73)

So much for Corneille's argument conc erning the natural tendency of her sex to be frightene d! Throughout the scene in whi ch she delivers her impassioned monologue and in the following one, in which she is killed, Camille displays a firmness of character that is significant both in itself and in terms of the light in which it places her brother. Corneille's claims in the Examen notwithstanding, the scen e that follows Cami11e's solilo quy and ends in her death is, in the terms of the play itself, a direct result of her explicit intentio ns. Horace's actions are all instigated and in that sense controlled by Camille, who has consciously sought to push him over the edge. Camille and Horace are engaged in a psycho logical duel whose result will be to demonstrate the complete mas tery of Camille, for throughout this scene, Camille retains the initia tive, and Horace is merely reacting . In other words, Horace's actions in this scen e are determined not by his own will but by Camille. Because of the force of her characte r, the character of Horace is robbed of the unity Corneille obviously soug ht to give it. Camille, moreover, reveals a superio r insight into the pathos of her brother. She knows that he is not animated by mere egotism, and that, in order to offend him to the utmost, it is not enough to insult him personally. She can do the grea test possible injury to him by showing her contempt for Rome; for Horace's actions on the battle field are justified in his own eyes only because, in killing the Curi-

92 + THE INTE RRUPTED D IALECTIC OF MODERN TRAGEDY to have taken place offstage, it appears that, from his own perspec tive, there is something deeply troubling about Camille's actions and hence about Horace itself . It is obvious that her active or even "virile" nature is at least part of the problem. For though one can fmd other heroines in Corneille's dramaturgy who are similarly active or mascu line, Camille exemplifies these qualities with special purity. As a re sult, her heroism and her corresponding insubordination succeed in revealing what in Corneille's other major tragedies is more success fully obscured. The violence Horace does to Camille at her instigation reveals that her (ethical) power-whether one calls it the power of the family, of passion, or of the woman - is the equal of his. The result is that, in Horace, conflict appears absolute. That is to say, it divides not only the masculine Horaces from the feminine Curiaces but also the masculine Horace(s) from himself (from each other) and is therefore as much within the family, within the state, and within the masculine (and the feminine) as between them. No (modern) hero, no matter how virtuous or powerful, can overcome such absolute conflict, and thus no hero confronted with such conflict can be the object of a wholly unambiguous, positive form of identification. But can such a view of the equality of Camille and Horace as the rep resentatives of two opposing ethical powers - in effect the "law of woman' ' and the "law of man''-be applied to the play as a whole? Does not the conclusion to the play successfully vindicate Horace and preserve his virtue and dialectical force? There is an argument to be made according to which, though individual male characters in Horace may suffer reversals, the masculine principle exemplified by the Horaces as a family still emerges supreme. According to this same argument, the king of Rome cannot punish Horace any more than the king of Spain can punish Rodrigue -because they have in fact pre vailed upon the field of battle, and because in fact only a masculine character could prevail. By the same token, the same argument would have it that the state always emerges as the dominant ethical power, because without it the family must perish. The always implicit argument concerning the natural difference between the sexes has been used at a crucial moment by Serge Dou brovsky in his reading of the famous scene from Le Cid in which Rodrigue comes to Chimene's apartment after having killed her father and offers to let her kill him.12 According to Doubrovsky, Chimene must herself kill Rodrigue, just as he has killed the count,
if she is to be truly his equal. Chimene's failure to do just that, Dou brovsky concludes, shows her inability to measure up to the heroic standard by which Corneille's male characters are judged.13 But Dou brovsky himself has also supplied another standard for judging the heroism of Corneille's characters, one according to which the distinc tion that he draws between Chimene and Rodrigue - or the one that could, using his terms, be drawn between Camille and Horace - ap pears problematic. Comeille, au Ia dialectique du heros is, of course, informed by Sartrean existentialism, and thus Doubrovsky makes the notion of will, with the complementary notions of subjectivity and responsibility, the key to his interpretation of Corneille's work.14 But because of what one might call the subjective character Doubrovsky himself ascribes to will, the supreme test it faces, he argues, is not in overcoming an external obstacle but, rather, in overcoming the self. Rodrigue is a hero, a man of will and responsibility, not only because he is able to kill the count and innumerable Moors, but also because he has successfully dominated his own fear of death and, in this sense, has become one with his own will.15 From a certain perspective, one could say that this is still a military and in this sense a masculine or virile definition of will. It still assumes something on the order of a state of nature of a Hobbesian type in which each is the enemy of all. But from another standpoint, it totally divorces the notion of will from any natural basis. Will is no longer tied to the reality of natural strength or physical action. What we have is a metaphysical notion of will to which all natural subjects may conform to the same degree. (And in this sense it is also a nat ural definition of will-another natural definition.) From the stand point of such a conception of will, that Chimene cannot and does not kill Rodrigue is irrelevant. What is relevant is her capacity to sur mount her fear of her own death . And if it can be argued that Chi mene never really has the chance to prove her heroism according to this second standard, Camille does- as, one might add, Antigone did

before her. Of course, in Doubrovsky's reading of Horace, Camille appears in a very different light than Chimene. "The death of Camille is a heroic death, insofar as heroism consists in voluntarily putting human val ues to a mortal test" (166). Whereas Chimene is Rodrigue's inferior, the ethical force of Ca_mille is equal to the ethical force of Horace, at least if they are compared as individual characters. But in Horace too,

94 + TH E I NTERRUPTED D IALECTIC O F MODERN TRAGEDY Horace, who is absolutely unable to defeat his sister, is nonetheless vindicated from the perspective of the play as a whole, according to Doubrovsky, when "the center of philosophical gravity . . . displaces itself from Horace to Tulle, and the king takes over from the faltering hero" (18o) . Thanks to the king's judgment that Horace's punishment for killing Camille will be to live, Doubrovsky argues that "the failure of heroism, on the individual plane, is redeemed by the success of the system" (182). The hero and the masculine principle thus triumph in a problematic sense, inasmuch as Horace's own status is now equi vocal. But according to Doubrovsky they do triumph nonetheless, insofar as they provide the basis for and sustain the interests of the broader community or system. Doubrovsky insists that the triumph of the system over the individual also represents a personal triumph for and vindication of the character of Horace : "It is important to note that at the end of the play, the sacrificial gesture of Horace [his murder of Camille] is not condemned" but on the contrary is accepted as analogous to the act that founded Rome, Romulus's murder of Remus (181). The importance Doubrovsky attaches to the role of the king in redeeming Horace's individual failure requires, of course, that he reject Corneille's views concerning the flawed nature of Horace: "There is no . . . duality of action in Horace. . . . Once more, we would defend Corneille the creator against Corneille the critic" (154) . But if Corneille himself criticizes Horace for its lack of unity, if the terms in which he both condemns and defends it are so contradic tory, it is because the play also lends itself to another reading, in which the masculine principle does not triumph, even in the more problematic sense in which Doubrovsky holds that it does when the king takes over from the faltering Horace and the success of the sys tem is affirmed. The point here is not to argue that either of Doubrovsky's very persuasive readings of Corneille's two tragedies is wrong, but, rather, to suggest that both tragedies, and in particular Horace, lend themselves equally well to an alternative reading that contradicts Doubrovsky's. There is no question that Horace, like Oedipe and Le Cid, constitutes an attempt to decide the questions it opens and resolve the contradictions it uncovers. The flaw in Horace is that another reading of the play, in which Horace's heroic nature is so radically undercut that the system itself is disrupted, now seems equally plausible. In other words, there lurks in Horace another play,

HEGEL, CORNEI LLE, AND THE FEMINI NE C HALLEN GE + 95 which would probably be called Camille, just as Sophocles' play about the conflict between the family and the state, man and woman, is called Antigone. The preceding analysis of Horace borrows the language Hegel uses to discuss ancient tragedy, and it would be difficult to do otherwise. In failing to be the play Corneille wants it to be, Horace becomes in effect Corneille's Antigone . Of course, the divisions within the ethical substance itself between competing ethical powers -between the power of the family and the state, between the sphere of woman and the masculine sphere of public life - are all clear in the flrst half of Horace, the part of it which, according to Corneille, corresponds to his poetic intention. But in those flrst acts, the possibility still exists that Horace can overcome these divisions if he displays sufficient flrmness

of character. This changes, however, when Horace is exposed to a second danger. Once Camille dies on the stage, the divisions in the ethical sub stance appear so deep as to be beyond the power of any individual to overcome them, whether that individual be a hero or a poet. The flnal act is "still another of the causes of the lack of satisfaction given by this tragedy" not only because, as Corneille would have it, "it is entirely composed of speeches for the prosecution and the defese" (Horace, 1:833), but, even more importantly, because these vanous speeches, whether made against or on behalf of Horace, are pro foundly anticlimactic in the sense that they cannot fundamentally alter the situation that is revealed at the close of the fourth act. They cannot reestablish the harmony of the woman and the man, the fam ily and the State, any more than they can restore to Horace his com-

manding position as hero. In theoretical terms, Horace, then, unlike Corneille's Oedipe, is not a synthesis of the ancient and the modern but rather a monstrous hybrid : not the ancient and the modern, flnally reconciled as and by the modern, but the ancient in the modern - as we might say, the fly in the ointment. Of all Corneille's tragedies, Horace is the best exam ple of the radical contradiction fundamental to modern tragedy and the force with which it undermines the dialectical project of the mod ern playwright and the modern theorist of literature no less than the modern philosopher. The logic of that contradiction, even as it pre vents them from imitating the ancient, also prevents both the heroic individual and the poet from fully overcoming the ancient and pro-




ducing an exclusively modern tragedy. It forces them to obey a logic other than their own, dialectical one, and in doing so, it disrupts the relatively simple opposition between the ancient and the modern in terms of which the modern poet/theorist seeks to overcome the tragic and the ancient. In one sense, Corneille's failure in Horace seems a simple confirma tion of Hegel's thesis that there is no modern tragedy- at least not in French. But in another sense, that failure reflects back on Hegel's entire project in his Aesthetics. As we have seen, Corneille's commit ment to the individual as an aesthetic principle is unquestionable. Thus it is all the more significant that, in Horace, Corneille should be unable to vindicate this principle, that he should be forced despite himself to show, if not its dependence on, then at least its inability to overcome wholly the conflict and contradiction that loom so large in Sophocles' Antigone. In this sense, Camille's death is not only a flaw in Corneille's play; it amounts to an interruption or suspension of the dialectical progression that leads from the ancient to the modern and also, therefore, from the age of modern art to the age of philosophy. It shows us that the ancient and the tragic are in a sense never over come, but, rather, that they permanently disrupt the modern and the individual. This can only mean that they permanently disrupt philosophy as well. The movement through which philosophy ultimately dissolves art by resolving its contradictions is compromised if the terms of the various contradictions themselves cannot be clearly articulated- that is, if the modern is still ancient and therefore the ancient is already modern; if the individual is already dialectical but also still tragic; if feminine pathos is equal to masculine honor and the masculine already feminine. It is because of the way in which Corneille's Horace mirrors speculative philosophy that it permits us to see its project in a perspective that is no longer that of speculative philosophy itself that is, to see philosophy not as the Aufhebung of the tragic and the aesthetic in general but as belonging to the age in which it is contam inated by art and tragedy: the age of the modern.

The Uneasy Identification of + Psychoanalysis and Tragedy: Freud and Racine

Rational cognition has one critical limit which is its inability to cope with suffering. What did Racine put in the place of the many beauties [of the Phaedra of Euripides}? Nothing, absolutely nothing.


-A. W. Schlegel

Hamlet versus Oedipus in the Work of Freud

, none is Of all the problems with which tragedy has presented theory (as ear Art of phy Philoso his more diffi.cult than that of tragic guilt. In ich Friedr m), lier in his Philosophical Letters on Dogmatism and Criticis Schelling articulates this problem in the following terms: People have asked . . . how the Greeks were able to endure these terrible contradictions inherent in their tragedies. A mar is tat preordained by fate for guilt and transgression, eve::' -as that fleemg and fate against ling the case with Oedipus - strugg guilt, nonetheless is frightfully punished for a transgression that was actually the work of fate. Are these contradictions, people have asked, not simply devastating?1 By implication, not the least of the merits of Schelling's philos?phy in his own eyes lies in its recognition that the idea of freedom 1s alone capable of resolving the contradictions posed by the guilt of Oedipus and the other heroes of Greek tragedy. For Schelling, the ultimate sense of their guilt lies in what he calls "the most sublime iea and the greatest victory of freedom, " which consists in voluntarily bear-


FREUD AND RAC INE + 99 The effect of Oedipus on audiences from the days of the Greeks to our own can be explained not in terms of the ideas of freedom and des tiny but only by a concept of the unconscious, understood as a region of the psyche cut off from consciousness, a region that harbors the incestuous and murderous wishes that find expression in Oedipus. The horror Oedipus inspires in us and presumably the punish ment he suffers are the result of the "repression by which those wishes" have "been held down within us" (4:262-63) . The uncon scious must take evasive measures in order to circumvent this repres sion or censorship of its wishes. But the ultimate law governing the unconscious is a pleasure principle, whose aim is to seek the fulfill ment of those wishes. Thus, even if a censoring agency imposed punishment on the tragic heroes, much as it imposes distortion and other evasive strategies on the dream process, the Greeks presum ably were able to endure the contradictions of their tragedies because unconscious wishes were fulfilled in them. Freud's sense of the historic importance of the discovery which he first conveyed in published form in this passage from the Interpreta tion of Dreams is evident. Psychoanalysis has at last been able to explain the "profound and universal power to move" of the Oedipus legend and Sophocles' masterpiece (4:261) . There is a similar note of triumph in the interpretation of Hamlet that immediately follows Freud's remarks on Oedipus. Thanks to his theory of the unconscious, he can also provide an explanation of Hamlet's hesitations, whereas the attempted explanations proposed before his, including Goethe's, "have failed to produce a result" (4:265). 'fter all," Freud writes in his "Psychopathic Characters on the Stage, " "the conflict in Hamlet is so effectively concealed that it was left to me to unearth it" (7:310) . Freud thus presents himself as the thinker who has finally revealed the ultimate secret of tragic guilt, and no doubt a considerable part of the scientific legitimacy of psychoanalysis stems in Freud's own eyes from the success with which it has explained this age-old mystery. But, as Jean Starobinski has argue d in two articles devoted to Freud's work, "Psychanalyse et connaissance litteraire" and "Oedipe et Ham let, " the place that Freud gives to both Sophocles' Oedipus and Shakespeare's Hamlet is so central that it is difficult to see them only as the most important examples of "dream-work" or the most impor tant confirmations of Freud's theory of the unconscious. Starobinski notes that Freud refers to these two plays early and frequently, even

ing "the punishment for an unavoidable transgression in order to manifest . . . freedom precisely in the loss of that very same free dom" (254). In Schelling's version of speculative philosophy, freedom sublates the contradiction tragedy poses for reason; by taking on and making itself the instrument of necessity, freedom negates itself and at the same time raises itself to a higher level . The ultimate purpose of the contradiction of tragic guilt is thus to make manifest human freedom. This knowledge is ultimately what makes it possible for the spectator to endure tragedy and grasp the rational basis of its beauty.2 Whatever the scientific and empirical bases of psychoanalysis, its deep historical and theoretical affmity with speculative philosophy can be seen in its own particularly radical attempt to come to terms with the problem posed to reason by tragic guilt and by tragedy gen erally speaking. In his first published references to the legend of Oedi pus and to Sophocles' play, Freud indicates his link to speculative philosophy and also his ambition to surpass it when he explicitly crit icizes the explanation of tragedy proposed by Schelling. Neither phi losophy nor aesthetics, Freud implies, is equal to the task of under standing the power of tragedy. Psychoanalysis alone is, because only the psychoanalytic concept of the unconscious is capable of account ing for tragic guilt: If Oedipus Rex moves a modern audience no less than it did the contemporary Greek one, the explal).ation can only be that its effect does not lie in the contrast between destiny and human will, but is to be looked for in the particular nature of the mate rial on which that contrast is exemplified . There must be some thing which makes a voice within us ready to recognize the com pelling force of destiny in the Oedipus, while we can dismiss as merely arbitrary such dispositions as are laid down in [Grillpar zer's] Die Ahnfrau or other modern tragedies of destiny. And a factor of this kind is in fact involved in the story of King Oedi pus. His destiny moves us only because it might have been ours -because the oracle laid the same curse upon us before our birth as upon him. It is the fate of all of us, perhaps, to direct our first sexual impulse towards our mother and our first hatred and our first murderous wish against our father. Our dreams con vince us that that is so. King Oedipus, who slew his father Lai'us and married his mother Jocasta, merely shows us the fulfillment of our own childhood wishes.3





before the publication of The Interpretation of Dreams, particularly at moments in his correspondence with Fliess and also in his published work when he is describing a theoretical breakthrough . For Starobin ski, these references indicate that the two plays not only serve to illus trate Freud's thought but are in fact a kind of matrix for it.4 From Starobinski's perspective, psychoanalysis is as much thought by Oedi pus and by Hamlet as they are thought by it. The two plays permit Freud to elaborate the concept of the unconscious which he then uses to reveal their secret. This general argument leads Starobinski to conclude, in the case of Sophocles' Oedipus, that the play is not merely a reflection of uncon scious drives; it is (the theoretical model for) the unconscious drives as they are understood by Freud. The implication is that Hamlet, to which, Starobinski notes, Freud refers as frequently as Oedipus, must play an analogous theoretical role. And yet, while Starobinski argues convincingly that the importance of Hamlet is as great for Freud as that of Oedipus, he does not provide the same kind of analysis of its theoretical significance. If the concept of the unconscious provides the key to understand ing tragedy, then a single model should suffice to exemplify the tragic genre as a whole. The problem, then, is to discover why it is that psy choanalytic theory should require that there be two examples of trag edy. The recurring references to the figure of Hamlet in Freud's theoretical texts and the particular set of psychoanalytic concepts to which it is linked indicate that, as Starobinski has argued for Oedipus, something in particular is being thought in the figure of this modern tragic hero, a "something" that is not just an element of psychoanal ysis but is in some sense constitutive of it . That Freud needs still another model or version of tragedy seems to indicate that the model of the unconscious provided by his interpretation of Oedipus is not sufficient, that it must be supplemented in some way by another.5 An initial indication as to the theoretical significance of Hamlet in relation to psychoanalytic theory itself is to be found in the opening lines of Freud's analysis of Shakespeare's tragedy in The Interpretation of Dreams. For Freud, as for Hegel, Shakespeare is unquestionably the preeminent modern dramatist, and Hamlet is Shakespeare's most sig nificant work:

Another of the great creations of tragic poetry, Shakespeare's Hamlet, has its roots in the same soil as Oedipus Rex. But the changed treatment of the same material reveals the whole differ ence in the mental life of these two widely separated epochs of civilization: the secular advance of repression in the emotional life of mankind. In the Oedipus the child's wishful phantasy that underlies it is brought into the open and realized as it would be in a dream. In Hamlet it remains repressed; and-just as in the case of a neurosis -we learn of its existence from its inhibiting consequences. (Interpretation of Dreams, 4:264) While the desire that gives form to the Oedipus complex may be uni versal, repression has a history. That history falls into two stages: the ancient and the modern. Within the framework of this historical theory of repression, Oedipus represents the ancient, and Hamlet, the mod ern. Or rather, in terms closer to Starobinski's, Oedipus provides us with the interpretive schema that permits us to theorize simulta neously the unconscious and the ancient, and Hamlet with the interpre tive schema that permits us to theorize repression and the modern. Very clearly, Freud's conception of the historical relationship be tween Oedipus and Hamlet, like Hegel's, is not merely chronological but also points to a structural relationship. As Freud puts it in The Interpretation of Dreams, Oedipus corresponds to the dream in which the child's wishful fantasy is brought into the open and realized. Ham let, on the other hand, corresponds to a neurosis, in which the exis tence of the wish is learned of through its inhibiting consequences. What is at stake in the contrast between Oedipus and Hamlet is thus not only a distinction between historical periods but also the theme or problem of repression, of its nature and origin. Freud's discussion of Hamlet in The Interpretation of Dreams provides the theme - repression -with which the figure of Hamlet is consis tently associated throughout his work. What it does not provide is a sense of the continuing problem this theme represents for his theory and in particular for his attempt to understand the psyche in eco nomic terms. Freud's interpretation of Oedipus harnesses the contra dictions of tragedy and converts their power into a scientifically and theoretically productive force. But the contradictions posed by trag edy for theory resurface in the modern version of tragedy and more specifically in the figure of Hamlet . What is being indicated despite Freud's intentions in his analyses of Hamlet is the disruptive nature of


repression in relation to the pleasure principle (or, more broadly, of the psychic economy, whatever its ultimate principle of organizati on might be); that is, the disruptive nature of repression in relation to the very principle that provided Freud with his original explanation of tragedy. As such, repression is a problem that demands not just an extension or refinement but a constant revision of psychoanalytic the ory. And yet repression remains a problem even after such revision has been undertaken. The persistence of the problem of repression and also the uneconomical nature of the displeasure it entails are both indications that modern tragedy is not just an object among others for psychoanalysis any more than it is for philosophy. Ulti mately, Freud needs to refer not just to an ancient tragedy but to a modern tragedy as well, because the unconscious itself, or at any rate an unconscious, is in some irreducible sense modern.

FREUD AND RACINE + 103 commentary of Hamlet to be found in all Freud's work, and the impor tance Shakespeare's play assumes in this essay stems from what in Freud's perspective is its direct relevance to the problem of repres sion. Freud calls Hamlet "the first of [the] modern dramas" (7:309) and goes on to explain that the modernity of the play lies precisely in its provoking in the (neurotic) spectator not merely "an enjoyment of the liberation [ or discharge of emotion] but a resistance to it as well" (7:309) . Tragedy as a whole does not necessarily present psychoanal ysis with a problem, because it makes possible a process of blowing off steam, and this process is a source of relief or pleasure (7:305). But the specifically modern component of tragedy- resistance or repres sion- does pose a problem because it is a direct source of displea sure .7 The challenge Hamlet presents to the model of the unconscious elaborated on the basis of Freud's interpretation of Oedipus is already being suggested here. Given the terms in which Freud himself has defined modern tragic drama, it would seem that, at the very least, a serious revision in the interpretation of the psyche based exclusively on the Oedipus model is called for in order to account for the equally compelling effect Hamlet has on its audiences. "Psychopathic Characters, " however, does not provide such a revi sion, even though it indicates that one is necessary. In the end, Freud reaffirms the pleasure principle in strong terms, thus preserving intact the model of the unconscious- and the interpretation of trag edy-he had already outlined four to six years earlier in The Interpre tation of Dreams .8 The exorbitant manner in which he does this, however, seems to contradict his explicit position - it seems to indi cate that once the existence of resistance and repression has become an explicit problem, then the primacy of the pleasure principle is in jeopardy. Freud argues that only a neurotic can truly enjoy a work such as Shakespeare's.9 The whole problem of resistance is thus rele gated to abnormal psychology, in order to protect the authority of

Freud's Hamlet and the Problem of Primary Masochism

Freud makes his earliest and in certain respects one of his most sig nificant attempts to come to terms with the problem of repression in his essay "Psychopathic Characters on the Stage."6 This essay com ments from a psychoanalytic perspective on the view that "the pur pose of drama is to arouse 'terror and pity' and so 'to purge the emotions"' (7:305). The general theme of this essay is thus the cathar tic suffering of the spectator of tragic drama, and the issue of repres sion emerges in connection with this suffering. Freud's principal problem in "Psychopathic Characters" (as in slightly different terms in the much later essay "On Repression'') is to give an economic account of suffering or displeasure. According to the traditional inter pretation of Aristotle, the displeasure of the spectator is of a sym pathetic kind, and in this sense is less difficult to reconcile with the pleasure principle. But as Freud proceeds in his analysis, he becomes interested in a more direct form of displeasure, one that results from the spectator's own resistance (or the resistance of his or her uncon scious) to the pleasure occasioned by tragic drama- or at least by cer tain tragic dramas. Freud interprets this resistance as the direct result of repression, since only repression can explain why what should in principle be pleasurable becomes instead a source of displeasure. Significantly, "Psychopathic Characters" contains the most extended

This argument i s implicitly insufficient from Freud's own point of view, however, inasmuch as he brings forward two more to buttress it. Clearly uneasy about his first argument, he goes on to make the equally surprising claim that "the dramatist's business is to induce the same illness in us" as we see in his neurotic hero (7:310). Hamlet pleases only neurotic spectators, but virtually every spectator becomes neurotic in the course of the play. But there is more. Freud concludes





"Psychopathic Characters" by asserting that even for the more or less neurotic spectator, the pleasure afforded by Hamlet overshadows the displeasure it causes. This is because Shakespeare has successfully provided us with libidinal compensation for our suffering, both by diverting our attention in order to allay our resistance and by offering forepleasure. The additional arguments brought forward to supplement the ini tial argument, however, have the effect of weakening rather than strengthening it, and Freud is placed in a position he himself was to analyze in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious. A man, A, is accused by another man, B, of damaging the kettle he borrowed from him and defends himself with the "argument of the kettle": "First, I never borrowed a kettle from B at all; secondly, the kettle had a hole in it already when I got it from him; and thirdly, I gave him back the kettle undamaged." Uokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, 8:62). In the conclusion to "Psychopathic Characters, " Freud can be seen to argue in a similar spirit when he states that first, only a neurotic can enjoy the displeasure caused by Hamlet; second, Hamlet makes virtu ally all spectators into neurotics; and third, even a neurotic spectator derives a pleasure from the play which overshadows his displeasure. One could argue that, despite the steps Freud takes to reaffirm the primacy of the pleasure principle in the conclusion of his article, what begins to emerge in his discussion of Hamlet is something that could be called a negative concept of tragedy, in which suffering would be the central interest of tragedy and not merely an occasion for a pleasurable discharge of emotion. In short, according to this neg ative concept of tragedy, suffering would be primary or fundamental rather than derivative or incidental. As Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe puts it, borrowing from Freud himself, suffering would be "anterior to the 'pleasure principle' or beyond it -1independent' in any case, 'and, perhaps, more primitive than it' " ("La Scene est primitive, " 203). It would thus be more fundamental, more primary than the plea sure principle, both in terms of tragedy and in terms of the psyche as well. Freud already in this article seems reluctant to pursue the path opened up by such a concept of tragedy, no doubt because it is disrup tive both of his economic model of the unconscious and of psycho analysis itself, insofar as its possibility and the possibility of an economic account of the psyche are one and the same. The tragic still confronts Freud as a problem even once it has helped provide him

with the concept of the unconscious . The problem of tragic suffering has not been resolved by psychoanalytic theory: finding a way to account for tragedy still looms as an accomplishment that can decide the question of the scientific status of psychoanalysis. The stakes of Freud's interpretation of Hamlet and the solution of the problem of repression are thus high. In both this article and the later ones that pursue the problems it raises, Freud can be seen looking for a path that will allow him to account effectively for the displeasure asso ciated with repression and retain the economic principle of explana tion (even ultimately at the cost of the pleasure principle) . In the group of essays written by Freud in 1914-15, a group that includes "On Narcissism: An Introduction, " "Instincts and Their Vicissitudes, " and "Mourning and Melancholia, " as well as "On Repression, " repression becomes a theme and a problem in its own right. These essays already give a clear indication of the radical turn ing point in his work which Freud himself was to date from the appearance of Beyond the Pleasure Principle, since they already point to the insufficiency of the pleasure principle to account for the whole of psychic processes. When the problems raised in "Psychopathic Char acters on the Stage" are considered from the perspective of these later articles, one can discern the radical nature of the question that is ortly beginning to emerge in that brief, early essay. But one could also argue that these later essays, and even Beyond the Pleasure Principle itself, can also be read from the perspective of "Psychopathic Charac ters." Freud, it can also be argued, never abandons the aim of giving an economic explanation to the disruptive forces uncovered by his consideration of the problem of tragic suffering. As a result, these later essays, like "Psychopathic Characters, " imply a view of modern tragedy in which its negative elements continue to disrupt psychoan alytic theory and offer a picture of the modern psyche which is only partly consistent with the one Freud derives from Oedipus. Hamlet is referred to only once in the essays comprised in this important group. And yet that brief reference indicates that the set of problems addressed in these papers can legitimately be seen as an attempt to work through certain of the implications of the theory of modern tragedy which Freud's remarks on Hamlet in The Interpretation of Dreams, his letters to Fliess, and above all his "Psychopathic Char acters on the Stage" had left hanging. The reference occurs in "Mourning and Melancholia," where he is describing the heightened

106 + PSYCH OANALYSIS AND TRAGEDY self-criticism of the melancholic: "There can be no doubt that if any one holds and expresses to others an opinion of himself such as this (an opinion which Hamlet held both of himself and of everyone else), he is ill." To this reference to Shakespeare's hero Freud appends a quo tation from act 2, scene 2 of the play: "Use every man after his desert, and who shall scape whipping?" ("Mourning and Melancholia, " 14:246). Hamlet is thus the prime example of the melancholic, and his speech can be quoted verbatim as a model of melancholic discourse.10 The psychological situation of the melancholic, Freud goes on to tell us in "Mourning and Melancholia," can be explained only by the existence of a critical agency "split off from the ego," even though it is an "institution of the ego'' (14:247) . This agency, which is "com monly called 'conscience, "' (14:247) is the origin, if not of all forms of defense, then at least of repression. It represents the ego ideal to the ego, and the formation of this ideal, as Freud had already argued in the slightly earlier essay "On Narcissism," is "the conditioning factor of repression," not just in neurotics, but in the normal individual as well (14:94). Conscience, it appears, makes not only cowards but also melancholies of us all. Thus conscience or the superego is the agent of what from the economic perspective is the paradoxical phenome non of repression, this strange "process by which the pleasure of sat isfaction is changed into unpleasure" ("On Repression, " 14:146) . The melancholia so perfectly exemplified by Hamlet already ap pears to necessitate at least a revision of the view that psychic phe nomena are governed solely by a pleasure principle, inasmuch as it brings about a situation fundamentally similar to the one described by Freud in a later essay, ''The Economic Problem of Masochism." And yet only in this later essay is the economic problem posed by this violation of the pleasure principle clearly articulated by Freud him self. Like repression and melancholia, the problematic character of masochism derives from its contradiction, at least on the surface, of the Oedipal law that the satisfaction of instincts is a source of plea sure: "The existence of a masochistic trend in the instinctual life of human beings may justly be described as mysterious from the eco nomic point of view. For if mental processes are governed by the plea sure principle in such a way that their f:trst aim is the avoidance of unpleasure and the obtaining of pleasure, masochism is incompre hensible" ("Economic Problem of Masochism, " 19:159) . In this pas sage we see Freud confront the possibility that, while psychoanalysis

FREUD AND RAC INE + 107 can offer a theory of pleasure, it may not be equal to the task of pro viding a theory of pain. The line of questioning Freud pursued beginning with "On Repres sion'' and including "Mourning and Melancholia" thus leads directly to the problem of masochism, and more precisely, to the problem of a primary masochism, that is, a form of masochism that is not simply a projection inward of an aggression originally directed outward: "The death instinct which is operative in the organism- primal sadism- is identical with masochism. After the main portion of it has been transposed outwards on to objects, there remains inside, as a residuum of it, the erotogenic masochism proper, which on the one hand has become a component of the libido and, on the other, still has the self as its object" (19:164). As this passage shows, Beyond the Pleasure Principle prepares the way for "The Economic Problem of Mas ochism, " by making it clear that the preeminence of the erotic and life instincts is not self-evident and by providing the concept of a death instinct that would be the motor force accounting for the spontane ous character of primary masochism. By showing that the erotic and life instincts are no more primary than masochism, "The Economic Problem of Masochism" also places the erotic instincts, in particular, in a new light. They have not lost their primary position in the model of the psyche, but because they now share that position with masochism, the death instinct and the erotic instinct become fused in and through the ego/libido. Erotogenic masochism, according to Freud, "has become a component of the libido and, on the other hand, still has the self as its object" ("Eco nomic Problem of Masochism, " 19:164) . The picture of the disposition of the erotic or libidinal elements of the psyche offered in "The Economic Problem of Masochism" is con sistent with the one that had been offered earlier in "Mourning and Melancholia' ' and in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. In both of these, Freud had indicated the importance of narcissism in determining the object-choices of the libido. As he argues in "Mourning and Melan cholia, " identification is the basis on which the object of love is selected in the case of the melancholic. This picture of love was to be sustained in Beyond the Pleasure Principle when Freud reached the con clusion "that the ego is the true and original reservoir of libido, and that it is only from that reservoir that libido is extended on to objects" (18:52) . The second statement confirms the first by showing us the

108 + PSYCH OANALYSIS AND TRAGEDY ego/libido making object-choices that are in effect little more than extensions of itself. But it also represents a refinement and further development of the concept of identification as presented in "Mourn ing and Melancholia." It shows that identification includes not only the process through which objects lying outside the psyche are chosen but also a more primary process through which the ego itself is chosen by the libido, which as a result is said by Freud to be orig inally housed in the ego. But the significance of the originally narcissistic nature of identifica tion changes when the problem of masochism is introduced. Instead of making self-love in the traditional sense the original and natural state of the psyche, ambivalence - a mixture of love and hate that cor responds to the primary character of both masochism and the erotic instincts -becomes primary, and identification, therefore, now appears as an ambiguous process that is as much negative as positive.11 "The Economic Problem of Masochism' ' thus not only points to the original nature of (tragic) suffering. It also indicates the fundamentally ambig uous nature of identification, which now serves no longer only to unify the subject but also to divide it from itself. 12 "The Economic Problem of Masochism'' does not by any means rep resent the last in the series of steps by which Freud advances toward and retreats from the implications of the questions that originate in his reading of Hamlet and in the necessity that imposes it on him as another model for the unconscious. But Hamlet can be seen as the source of the entire theoretical chain extending from repression, to melancholia, to the death drive, to primary masochism and beyond, not only for historical reasons, but, more important, because it is Hamlet who realizes not only the wish that lies at the bottom of the Oedipus complex but also the repression of that wish by the neurotic and healthy individual alike. In the simplest, most schematic terms, one could say that Oedipus represents the pleasure principle and Hamlet the death drive, which, though Freud maintains that it is never manifest as such, must be posited in order to make certain enig matic phenomena comprehensible - phenomena such as primary masochism, repression, and melancholia. Hamlet is thus the exemplary melancholic, that is to say, the exem plary masochist; and in him modern man can come to understand his own masochistic character, the uneconomic and primary nature of the suffering he endures at the hands of the superego, understood

FREUD AND RACINE + 109 now as "a representative of the id" itself ("Economic Problem of Mas ochism, " 19:167) and not merely of an external authority. One can thus see an irony in the triumphant tone of the passage in which Freud asserts that he alone has come to grips with Hamlet. It seems equally or more plausible that Hamlet has come to grips with Freud. If masochism and repression are primary, then it does not suffice to claim that Shakespeare's Hamlet is a reflection of the psychic appar atus. It now appears that "the play's the thing wherein" conscience and the psyche as a whole are "caught" or mirrored. This is so not just because the content of certain plays evokes the content of repressed wishes, but because the psychic apparatus has been re vealed as having the character of a modem tragic stage, insofar as pain is as primary or even more'primary in it than the pleasure afforded by the realization of the deepest unconscious wish. From the mo:rllent the existence of repression and the superego becomes problematic for Freud, his model of the psyche risks being transformed into a struc ture that resembles the scene of modern tragedy, and suffering appears no longer to be merely the price paid by the psyche for its pleasure but instead quite possibly its primary aim.

Freud's Hamlet and (Modern) Theory

What Freud in the essay "Mourning and Melancholia" calls con science and later, the superego, has another function related to its crit ical nature, a function he describes in his essay "On Narcissism'': The complaints made by paranoiacs also show that at bottom the self-criticism of conscience coincides with the self-observation on which it is based. Thus the activity of the mind which has taken over the function of conscience has also placed itself at the service of internal research, which furnishes philosophy with the material for its intellectual operations. This may have some bearing on the characteristic tendency of paranoiacs to construct speculative systems. (14:96) In this passage and in the essay as a whole, we see Freud operating according to a logic he invokes throughout his work. In order to "arrive at an understanding of what seems so simple in normal phe nomena, " he has turned once again "to the held of pathology with its

110 + PSYCHOANALYSIS AND TRAG EDY distortions and exaggerations" (14:82) . In the case of the paranoiac, we see a spectacular example of the link to be found in every individ ual between the functioning of conscience or the superego and of intellectual operations. Jacques Lacan and Jean Hyppolite have both pointed out that the link between the operation of the superego (th at is, between repres sion) and intellectual activity is the subject of another essay by Freud, "Negation:'13 Negation is a very specific form of repression, in which the repressed content is admitted into consciousness but continues to be repressed nonetheless, as when the patient tells the analyst, "You ask who this person in the dream can be. It's not my mother' " ("Nega tion, " 19:235) . In such instances, Freud tells us, the analyst can safely assume it is the mother. According to Hyppolite, if we want to understand the essay "Nega tion'' in all its "philosophical density, " we must note and weigh care fully Freud's use in it of Aufhebung as a synonym for V erneinung or negation. Hyppolite quotes from Freud: "Negation is an Aufhebung of repression, but is not for all that an acceptance of the repressed" ("Commentaire," 881) .14 For Hyppolite this passage from Freud's work raises an obvious question: is it merely a coincidence that Hegel and Freud both use the term Aufhebung, or does it point to a deeper link between psychoanalysis and philosophy? His answer is that a deeper link must in fact exist, because the psychoanalytic term nega tion and the philosophical term Aufhebung are in fact virtually identi cal. Both mean "at one and the same time negate, suppress and retain, and fundamentally raise to a higher level" (Hyppolite, "Com mentaire, " 88o-81). The singularity of negation as compared to other forms of repres sion lies in that it allows the neurotic to become conscious of the repressed content, even though it continues to be repressed. In this sense it differs from the dream, in which unconscious desires also fmd expression, but in a distorted form. And yet it could be argued that all expressions of the unconscious that reach consciousness take the basic form of negation, inasmuch as distortion and reversal are only other modes of negation, other ways of saying, "This is not my mother." In other words, all repression involves negating, suppress ing, and retaining, and raising to a higher level . There is thus a deep and complex link between psychoanalysis and philosophy because intellectual activity is an extension of the process

FREUD AND RAC I NE + 111 of negation/repression. As Hyppolite stresses, it is quite true that negation is not yet intellectual judgment in the full sense, just as Freud considers that "repression is [ only] a preliminary stage of con demnation'' or judgment ("On Repression, " 14:146). But we can none theless recognize all forms of intellectual and theoretical activity beginning to emerge in negation/repression- including philosophical speculation and psychoanalysis itself. The broader implication of Hyppolite's reading is clear. Like Hegelian philosophy, psychoanalysis also involves a dialectic, in which repression plays an ambiguous role as both an element of the uncon scious and the frrst step in the emergence of theory. Repression, like the Aufhebung, marks a coming into consciousness, in a form appro priate to consciousness, of what was previously unconscious. But the reverse is also implicitly true. The Aufhebung, like repression, hides what it reveals; it not only creates consciousness but also simulta neously roots consciousness in an unconscious it can never fully mas ter, and, I would emphasize, in a displeasure it can never fully theorize, that is, make pleasurable. By linking intellectual and theoretical activity to negation or repres sion, Hyppolite's commentary points beyond Freud's article "Nega tion" to the other texts analyzed here in which the question of the origin of repression is pursued. Whatever that origin, it is also the ori gin of intellectual activity, of judgment, of philosophy, and of psycho analysis itself. Freud's reflections on Hamlet thus provide a theoretical matrix within which not only the problem of repression but also the problem of intellectual activity, and ultimately of psychoanalysis itself, emerge. In other words, in the dialectic of psychoanalysis, as in the dialectic of speculative philosophy, Hamlet occupies a similarly pivotal position. He represents the Aufhebunglrepression of both the ancient by the modern and of the unconscious and tragic by the the oretical. He is the tragic hero as theorist, and the suffering he en dures is not merely the price he pays for knowledge and self-knowl edge but a fundamental element of it . Starobinski's argument can now be completed in the following man ner: if Oedipus is (the model of) the unconscious, then Hamlet is (the model of) the theory of the unconscious, but that theory must now be understood as radically and irreducibly implicated in the processes it seeks to analyze. Theory no longer appears spontaneous, or rather, its spontaneity is that of primary masochism, the death drive, and

112 + PSYCHOANALYSIS AND TRAGEDY repression. Even as a figure for theory itself, Hamlet remains a tragic hero. In this sense he indicates that psychoanalysis itself, and not just this or that psychoanalyst, remains the thing, if not directly of the drives it seeks to theorize, then of the scene that frames - and re presses-those drives for the modem spectator. There is thus still implicitly something negative in Hamlet for Freud as for Hegel, something that is being denied as much as admired - as Lacoue-Labarthe indicates when he comments on the perplexing fact that Freud never published "Psychopathic Characters" and seems even to have forgotten the article or at the very least to have relin quished it ("La Scene est primitive, " 187). Of course, throughout his work, Freud's explicit posture in relation to art and poetry is one of admiration.15 Even more, Freud freely acknowledges the convergence of the findings of psychoanalysis and the insights of artists and poets and also what to him appears to be the relatively greater ease and sim plicity with which they arrive at their conclusions. Poets, he writes in a typical passage, can "save without effort from the whirlpool of their own feelings the deepest truths, towards which the rest of us have to find our way through tormenting uncertainty and with restless grop ing" (Civilization and Its Discontents, 21:133.) In passages such as these, Freud is affirming the similarity between the truths uncovered by the psychoanalyst and the poet. However, what is still being denied is the deeper similarity between psychoanalysis and art, inasmuch as nothing could be less alike than the effortless recovery of the deepest truths from the whirlpool of the poet's own feelings and the torment, uncertainty, restlessness, and groping of psychoanalysis. What is still being denied, in other words, is the deeper affinity between art and psychoanalysis, between Hamlet and the theoretician. When the function of the figure of Hamlet in psychoanalytic theory is interpreted in terms of its potentially disruptive implications, it reveals that the identification of psychoanalysis with Shakespeare's play is uneasy at best. The process through which psychoanalysis comes implicitly to recognize itself in Hamlet is potentially painful for psychoanalysis, however, not because it involves a loss of the sense of the superiority of the rational and theoretical in relation to the intui tive and subjective. It is, rather, because the process makes apparent the theoretical character of both art and psychoanalysis - that is to say, the displeasure or suffering they share.


Racine's Iphigenie and Modern Tragic Guilt

Though Racine's tragedies were never the subject of a psychoanalytic study by Freud himself, the readiness with which they lend them selves to interpretation from a psychoanalytic perspective is attested to by the works of several literary analysts. Roland Barthes's, Andre Green's, and Charles Mauron's readings of Racine each, from a some what different perspective, confirm the fruitfulness of psychoanalytic criticism, understood as the application of psychoanalytic categories and schemas to the study of works of literature. For Barthes, Racine's tragedies invite a psychoanalytic reading ''because only a language such as psychoanalysis, which is . . . capable of registering fear of the world, appeared appropriate" to him for the analysis of the Racin ian hero.16 For Green, whose Un Oeil en trap is inspired by Bataille, Nietzsche, and Artaud, as well as Freud, Racine's plays serve to trace the gradual effacement of the emotions associated with the Dionysian ritual in which tragedy originates, in both historical and psychic terms.17 For Mauron, the psychoanalytic interpretation of Racine's plays provide a particularly rich document of the "temptations or . . . defenses, . . . desires or . . . fears" of its author.18 After reading the works of B arthes, Green, and Mauron, one gets the strong impres sion that for them psychoanalytic criticism and Racine's tragedies were made for each other. And yet, once Freud's concepts of the superego, masochism, and repression are analyzed in their problematic relation to modem trag edy, the whole question of the affinity between Racine's plays and psy choanalysis appears in a different light. We can, of course, like Mauron, Barthes, and Green, still use psychoanalysis to define themes and structures that Racine's plays can then be seen to echo. But we can also view those plays, along with Hegel's Aesthetics and psychoanalytic theory itself, as different elements in a more or less continuous theory of tragedy, and their affinities, therefore, as histor ically determined rather than as a reflection of the way in which Racine's plays embody the truths of psychoanalysis in dramatic form. Moreover, from the standpoint of this broader historical tradition encompassing both psychoanalysis (or philosophy) and tragedy, Racine's tragedies and his critical texts would appear to contribute no less actively than the texts of Hegel and Freud to the elaboration of the problematic concept of modem tragedy, inasmuch as a central, if


FREUD AND RAC INE + 115 on Iphigenie, has her transported to Tauride by supernatural means, and a doe is sacrificed in her place. Racine also notes that in other ver sions of her story found in the work of other ancient playwrights, including Aeschylus and Sophocles, Iphigenie is actually sacrificed. These he finds equally unacceptable. However respectful Racine may be of the authority of the ancients, he feels he can no longer accept it completely when confronted with these two possible conclusions: What chance was there that I would defile the stage by the hor rible murder of a person as virtuous and lovable as Iphigenie had to be represented as being? And what chance was there of [successfully] concluding my tragedy through the help of a god dess and a machine, and by a metamorphosis that could indeed be believed in the time of Euripides, but which would be too absurd and too incredible to us? (Iphigenie, 67o) We moderns would find it outrageous if an innocent Iphigenie were sacrificed. The version in which Iphigenie is rescued by Diane is im plicitly even more unacceptable, however, because it solves the prob lem posed by the sacrifice of a "virtuous and lovable" victim through supernatural means. Racine's aim is of course not to defy the authority of the ancients but, rather, to devise a conclusion that can satisfy both the ancient and the modern sense of justice. Iphigenie must be saved from an unjust punishment, but she cannot be saved by supernatural means. The substitution of Eriphile for Iphigenie at the conclusion of the trag edy thus represents Racine's attempt to resolve the opposition be tween a modern conception of ethics based on a conscious sense of responsibility and an ancient conception of punishment and guilt which to "us" appears irrational and unacceptable but still carries much authority because it is ancient. Iphigenie does not die, but Eri phile (whose name, significantly, is also Iphigenie) does. Moreover, Eriphile, like Iphigenie, is innocent in the sense that she has com mitted no crime that clearly merits her sacrifice. But she is not so "vir tuous and worthy of love" as Iphigenie. Thus her character in itself represents an attempt to reconcile the ancient and the modern, be cause she must be imperfect enough so that her sacrifice appears less outrageous than would that of Iphigenie, but she must be innocent enough so that her death has some of the horror that Iphigenie's would have had for the modern audience, had she been sacrificed.

not the central interest in Racine's texts, as in Freud's, lies in how they deal with the "modern'' dimension of the problem of tragic guilt. Racine's reflections on his own work- specifically his prefaces to the published versions of his plays - most often take the form of a comparison between his tragedies and those of the ancients from whom he frequently borrows. In contrast to Corneille, Racine is much clearer in expressing his allegiance to the ancients, and perhaps the best example of his attitude is found in his preface to Iphigenie.19 Yet it can also be seen in this same preface and in other texts as well that Racine's relationship to the ancients is in certain respects as ambigu ous and ambivalent as Corneille's. In the exploration of the complexities of this relationship, however, a second problem, which is inextricably linked to the frrst, emerges almost immediately. In Freud's terms it could be called the problem of the superego. In Racine's terms it is the problem of tragic guilt or des tiny. All Racine's plays and most of his prefaces also refer more or less directly to this second, crucial problem. In Racine's terms any clear definition of the relationship between ancient and modern tragedy must simultaneously find the rationality underlying the contradiction posed by tragic guilt. The preface to Iphigenie is particularly instructive not only in indicat ing the nature and importance of these two problems but in showing their interdependence as well. As Andre Green notes ( Un Oeil en trap, 167), this tragedy is very different from what it was initially pro jected to be- little more than a translation of Racine's ancient model, Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulide. While the preface to Racine's Iphigenie contains one of his strongest affirmations of the authority of the ancients and the classical (or neoclassical) nature of his own work, it also acknowledges and discusses in detail the changes he has made in Euripides' tragedy. Racine is forced into an uncharacteristic admis sion that he has departed from his ancient model because of the prob lems presented by the treatment of the theme of guilt in Iphigenia in Aulide and also in other ancient versions of Iphigenia's story. In his preface, Racine can be seen attempting to resolve the question of his relation to the ancients through a critical reflection on the subject of ancient guilt - a reflection apparent in the play as well. Racine states in his preface that, though he has borrowed heavily from Euripides' play, he finds the conclusion unacceptable for the modern stage. According to that conclusion, Diane, having taken pity


The principle according to which Racine seeks to reconcile the ancient and the modern is thus exemplified in Eriphile's character, understood as neither good nor bad. Though the poetic justification for this principle is articulated with particular clarity in relation to Eri phile, it can, however, be shown to constitute the essence of Racine's view and practice as concerns the construction of character20 in all of his plays. His preface to Andromaque, for example, gives another jus tification of the mixed nature of his heroes and heroines. To those who criticize his characters for their moral defects, Racine responds: I beg them to remember that it is not for me to change the rules of the theater. Horace recommends that we describe Achilles as fierce, inexorable, and violent, such as he was and such as his son was described. And Aristotle, far from asking that our heroes be perfect, on the contrary wants tragic characters, that is to say, those whose misfortune is the catastrophe of the tragedy, to be neither altogether good nor altogether bad. He does not want them to be extremely good, because the punishment of a good man would excite the spectator's indignation rather than his pity; nor that they be excessively bad, because one has no pity for a scoundrel . (Andromaque, 242) Racine happily finds a conception of the tragic hero that is very sim ilar to his own in the highest of all ancient authorities -Aristotle's Po etics. He can thus deviate from Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides and still claim to be respecting the authority of the ancients. But his finding support for his own position in Aristotle should not be allowed to obscure the modernity of his uneasiness with the contra dictory nature of tragic guilt as presented in the plays of the ancients and the way he attempts, through his conception of character, to ra tionalize and in this sense modernize tragic guilt. The idea that the tragic hero or heroine should be neither good nor bad is also invoked by Racine to explain the character of Phedre even more, to explain that aspect of Phedre's character which Hegel fi.nds so objectionable in both artistic and ethical terms .zl Phedre, according to Racine, is "neither altogether guilty nor altogether inno cent" (Phedre, 745), and an aspect of this mixed character is evident in her relation to Oenone: I even took pains to make her [Phedre] a bit less odious than she is in the tragedies of the ancients, where she resolves on her

FREUD AND RACINE + 117 own to accuse Hippolyte. I felt that calumny was too low and too black to be put in the mouth of a princess whose sentiments are in all other respects so noble and virtuous. This baseness ap peared to me more appropriate to a nurse, who might have more servile inclinations, and who in any case only initiates this false accusation in order to save the life and the honor of her mistress. (745) Here too, the principle followed by Racine is the same. Phedre must be neither good nor bad if she is to be a tragic heroine and if she is to exemplify the character of tragic guilt. What to Hegel appeared as vacillation and lack of firmness appears to Racine as the essence of tragic character. Racine's insistence that the hero be neither good nor bad is thus a step that forms a part of his reflection on the enigma of tragic guilt; and it would be a mistake to interpret that insistence as some kind of commonsense interpretation of Aristotle based on the idea that the hero should be average or not perfect in order to foster the spectator's identification with him. The notion of being neither good nor bad is meaningless in relation to Racine's characters (and in relation to those of Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides as well) if it indicates a moral mediocrity. Though Hegel has very little to say about the problem of tragic guilt, what little he does say is helpful in understanding the next step Racine takes in his attempt to come to terms with it. Hegel's most im portant allusion in the Aesthetics to the problem of tragic guilt con cerns precisely the issue of what he calls the plasticity of the ancient tragic heroes - in the terms of Racine and Aristotle, the idea that they should be neither good nor bad. Basing his remarks on the character of Oedipus as he is portrayed in the two Sophoclean tragedies re counting his life, Hegel defines plasticity as the coexistence in him of the bad and the good, the intentional and the unintentional, the con scious and -the unconscious: What is at issue here [in Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonnus] is the right of the wide awake consciousness, the justification of what the man has self-consciously willed and knowingly done, as contrasted with what he was fated by the gods to do and actu ally did unconsciously and without having willed it . . . . On the [modern] presupposition that a man is only guilty if alternatives are open to him and he decides arbitrarily on what he does, the


Greek plastic figures are innocent: they act out of this character of theirs, of this "pathos, " because this character, this "pathos" is precisely what they are. . . . It is just the strength of the great characters that they do not choose but throughout, from start to finish, are what they will and accomplish . (Aesthetics, 1214) Though it would be an exaggeration to say that in this passage Hegel invents the Freudian notion of an unconscious, he at least can be seen to take a step in its direction in order to come to terms with the "guilty innocence" of the Greek heroes. Without at least a pre Freudian notion of an unconscious, there is no way to describe the Greek heroes and even begin to account for their simultaneous guilt and innocence. The Greek hero is plastic - that is to say, in other terms, he is neither good nor bad because he is both good and bad, because though he is consciously good, he is unconsciously bad. Thus, though Racine's heroine Phedre is criticized by Hegel as defective, in fact Racine, in a manner initially like Hegel but increas ingly like Freud, also focuses on the unconscious nature of tragic crime in order to clarify the peculiar nature of tragic guilt. Racine's first trag edy, La Thebaiiie, already spells out this central preoccupation and indicates that for him, as for Hegel, the notion of unconscious or in voluntary crime offers the only explanation for the punishment suffered by the heroes of tragedy. As Jocaste puts it:

FREUD AND RACINE + 119 the modern perspective are not crimes at all -with the same severity as conscious ones, then it is not really any more surprising that they punish even when there is apparently no crime." Indeed, while Jo caste's crime was unconscious in the sense that it was involuntary, the "crimes" for which Racine's other characters suffer are often even more obscure -unconscious in a deeper sense. Very frequently, Racine's characters are punished without having committed a deed that either they or the spectator can identify as even an involuntary or unconscious crime; in Andromaque, Oreste is the character who artic ulates this paradox: My innocence begins at last to weigh on me. I know that an unjust power always Leaves crime in peace and pursues innocence. Wherever I turn my eyes upon myself I see naught but misfortunes that condemn the gods. Let us deserve their anger, let us justify their hatred And may the fruits of the crime precede the punishment. (Act 3, scene 1, p. 271) In a bitterly ironic outburst, Oreste declares himself ready to commit a crime in order to rationalize his suffering. But of course, the crime never precedes the punishment in Oreste's case or in the case of many other Racinian heroes and heroines. Oreste not only never wins Hermione's love, but he never succeeds in taking her by violence; and yet he suffers as if he had. He is punished by something even worse than the loss of his life when he is forced to recognize what for him is the unthinkable: that he does not even exist for Hermione, who has only used him as a means in her strug gle to gain recognition (love) from Pyrrhus. The madness Oreste expe riences in the closing lines of Andromaque reflects the radical, utterly self-negating consequences of his failure to gain the recognition of the other, but it also reflects the unthinkable nature of Oreste's punishment and of the punishment of the other characters as well. It simply cannot be fully rationalized, and our very attempts to under stand it rationally only lead to an inconceivable paradox- that of a punishment without a specific crime. The case of Iphigenie provides perhaps the most spectacular version of this situation in all of Racine's work, and in this sense it can be con sidered the exemplary Racinian play. For the Gods to demand the

heaven, your rigors would not be so deadly If the thunderbolt crushed the guilty straightaway!
0 0 0 0

And yet, oh gods, an involuntary crime Should it incur all your wrath? Did I recognize, alas, this unhappy son? You yourselves led him into my arms. (La Thebaiiie, act 3, scene 2, pp. 137-38) Only if the Gods punish unconscious crimes with the same severity as conscious ones can tragic destiny and tragic guilt be understood in rational terms. But at this point, Racine takes a step that leads him beyond the logic of ancient tragedy and ancient guilt as exemplified in Oedipus and as understood by Hegel, a step that amounts to a radical attempt to grasp its fundamental nature. It is as if Racine's plays were telling us, "But if the Gods punish unconscious crimes - crimes that from





sacrifice of Iphigenie is more unthinkable than the punishment of an Oreste or even an Hyppolite -though Hyppolite's fate too deserves special scrutiny. In Iphigenie's own words: "Heaven! for so much rigor, of what am I guilty?" (Iphigenie, act 3, scene 5, p. 706). In the words of Agamemnon : "I do not know for what crime I The anger of the gods demands a victim'' (act 4, scene 4, p. 716). For the gods to demand her sacrifice is in effect to punish the innocent, or else to affirm the exis tence of a primary guilt from which no one escapes. Even though Racine's chosen conclusion to the play averts the monstrosity of Iphigenie's sacrifice, the possibility of just such a primary guilt is clearly posed in Iphigenie as well as in Oreste's speech in Andromaque.22 The tragic world of Racine thus appears to be governed by a pri mary masochism, inasmuch as many Racinian heroes and heroines are punished despite having committed no crime, even a distorted crime of the type found in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Their guilt has no history, and the suffering they endure is thus spontaneous and orig inal. We have seen how, in his interpretation of Oedipus and the cul ture that produced it, Freud argues that in the ancient tragic world "the child's wishful phantasy"- in other words, his wishful crime -is " brought into the open and realized as it would be in a dream'' (Inter pretation of Dreams, 4:264) . The world of the Racinian characters seems to be the antithesis of the world of Oedipus, and it bears some resem blance to the world of Hamlet only insofar as Shakespeare's play also raises the issue of the primary nature of repression and guilt. Thus, it could be argued, in Freud's terms, that Racine's plays mark two steps in the advance of repression, the first of which takes them beyond Oedipus and the second beyond even Hamlet. In the logic of Freud's distinction between the ancient and the modern, the uncon scious and the neurotic, Racine's plays could be seen as offering an image not j ust of neurosis but of madness, inasmuch as the Oedipal situation is no longer simply distorted and repressed but to a great extent "forcluded." But, as with Hamlet, Racine's portrayal of charac ter can serve both to illustrate certain aspects of psychoanalytic the ory and to question critically other aspects of it. Racine's plays can be seen both as case studies relating to specific categories of psychic dis order and as an active, critical mirror in which Freudian theory can be confronted with its own hesitations and contradictions, especially as concerns the fundamental problem of primary masochism . As we have seen, the possibility of such a masochism is constantly

indicated by Freud but never fully accepted . Though he acknowl edges its existence, he nonetheless seeks to derive primary masoch ism from the child's well-founded fear of punishment. In doing so, he betrays his determination to find an economic explanation that would in the last instance deny masochism its primacy. 23 With the exception of the New Introductory Lectures, which recapit ulates the conclusions of Beyond the Pleasure Principle, and "The Eco nomic Problem of Masochism, " Freud's later essays develop the line of reflection opened up there not in terms of the problem of masoh ism per se but, rather, in terms of conscience and the superego. There is a good reason for this. A central aspect of Freud's argument con cerning the superego is that it is the last of the psychic instances to emerge. If the punishment meted out by the superego is the cause of the displeasure of the ego, and if the superego is, as he argues at length in Civilization and Its Discontents, the principal cause of (uncon scious) displeasure, then pain and displeasure are also, at least by and large, secondary or late developments, and the existence of a pri mary form of masochism or suffering appears less significant. Freud thus shifts from a primary to a defensive masochism adopted by the ego as a reaction to the cruelty of the superego : "The fear of this crit ical agency [the super-ego], which is at the bottom of the whole rela tionship [between the super-ego and the ego], the need for punish ment, is an instinctual manifestation on the part of the ego, which has become masochistic under the influence of a sadistic super-egd' (Civilization and Its Discontents, 21:136) . '"Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, "' Freud writes in a note at the beginning of chapter 8 of Civilization and Its Discontents, but this parting nod to Hamlet acknowledges the guilty hero rather than the melancholic or maso chistic one. Yet one could argue that there is in fact a deep link between the pri mary phenomenon of masochism and the much later emergence of the superego and even the emergence at some intermediate stage of the sense of guilt, which according to Freud predates the superego per se. What Freud identifies as primary masochism in "The Eco nomic Problem of Masochism'' can be seen as serving as a primary guilt -that is, a displeasure that already has the character of the dis pleasure caused by the superego and the sense of guilt, but without being related to any of the specific events to which Freud ties their emergence. According to Freud himself, primary masochism brings

122 + PSYCH OANALYSIS AND TRAGEDY together the death instinct and the ego - the psychic forces from which the superego will be formed - and places them in the same rela tion to each other that they will be in once the superego is instituted. Primary masochism, as we have seen, is comprised of that portion of the death instinct which is not transposed outward onto objects but "remains inside, as a residuum of it." This remaining portion of the death drive "still has the self as its object" ("Economic Problem of Masochism, " 19:164) . The situation produced by conscience and, more spectacularly, by melancholia, is essentially the same. As Freud puts it in "The Ego and the Id, " "In melancholia, the superego [be comes] a kind of gathering-place for the death instincts" which it then directs against the ego (19:54) . With the emergence of the super ego, the death instinct is (once again) directed against the ego, just as it was in the case of primary masochism. Thus in effect, primary mas ochism is a proto- or an archi-superego, in which the superego as such is grounded. The idea that primary masochism is an archi-superego in turn explains the paradox of the innocence of Racine's tragic characters, as well as the version of that same paradox that confronts Freud when he examines the problem of guilt. In Racine's plays, as we have seen, tragic destiny treats innocent and guilty characters with the same severity. Freud comes up against the same problem when he acknowl edges the seemingly unaccountable severity of the superego of those who, in his words, "have carried saintliness furthest" (Civilization and Its Discontents, 21:126). If the superego emerged from the ego as a reac tion to the moral infractions of the subject, it would be least devel oped in those who are (consciously) blameless. But, on the contrary, observation shows us that the saintly are most apt to "reproach them selves with the worst sinfulness" (21:126) . The implication is obvious, paradoxical though it may be: "Instinctual renunciation creates con science, which then demands further instinctual renunciation" (21 : 129). Though he retreats from it in the passages of Civilization and Its Discontents that follow this one, Freud's argument here is that the ori gin of instinctual renunciation is . . . instinctual renunciation, and that conscience is the creation of . . . conscience. According to this logic, guilt appears, once again, not as a response to events but, rather, as a structure as primary or even more primary than the crimes for which the superego punishes the ego. 24 The primary nature of guilt would account for or at least square bet-

FRE UD AND RACINE + 123 ter with a second, crucial characteristic of the superego, intimately related to the fact that the severity of the superego only increases with instinctual renunciation. The superego, Freud repeatedly re minds us, though it represses instincts, is nonetheless derived from them: it is an institution of the id as much as of the ego. 25 As such, the superego conforms to a law of the unconscious which Freud estab lished very early: the unconscious carries within it no "indication of reality:'26 The superego accordingly reveals itself to be wholly uncon cerned with whether or not the ego has in fact committed the crimes for which it is punished. It treats unconscious thoughts, unconscious acts, and conscious thoughts all in the same manner as it treats con scious acts (and may in fact even treat unconscious thoughts with the greatest severity).27 The superego, in other words, behaves exactly like tragic destiny, and the psyche appears to have the character of the stage on which modern tragedy plays itself out. In the tragic universe of Racine's plays, we can also see that the superego/destiny is indifferent to the question of whether or not the moral law has in reality been broken, and thus it punishes thoughts as severely as actual crimes. In his preface to Phedre, Racine writes: "What I can assure you is that I have written [no play] in which virtue is thrown into greater relief than in this one. In it the slightest faults are severely punished. The mere thought of crime is regarded with as much horror as crime itself" (747). Racine might have added, in com menting on his own play, that the absence of even the thought of crime is treated in the same manner as the thought of crime, as we see in the fate of Hippolyte. Roland Barthes is certainly right not to contrast the characters of Hippolyte and Phedre, but to treat them instead as doubles (Sur Racine, 116). If the totally innocent Hippolyte suffers a fate as terrible as or perhaps even more terrible than that of Phedre, it can be only because from the standpoint of "the gods" that is, from the standpoint of guilt -their status is the same. The relative absence or at any rate the deemphasis of action is another characteristic of Racinian dramaturgy which can be seen as a logical consequence of the view that guilt is primary rather than a later development in the history of the psyche. In Racine's theater, because more often than not no criminal deed is committed to war rant punishment, the action often appears slight or nonexistent. One of Racine's most cryptic but also most revealing statements about his work can be interpreted in terms of a modern conception of the prob-





lem of guilt. The "simplicity of action'' of the ancients cannot be car ried too far, he argues in a celebrated passage: "In tragedy, only the plausible ["le vraisemblable"] touches us. And how plausible is it that there happen in one day a multitude of things that could hardly have happened in several weeks? There are some who think that . . . simplicity is the indication of a lack of invention. They do not imagine that, on the contrary, invention consists in making something of nothing" (Berenice, 466) . Of course, Racine (like Corneille) was to be repeatedly criticized for his interpretation of the three unities, and much of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century theater criticism can be, if not reduced then at any rate linked to this anti-Racinian strain.28 As we have seen, Hegel's criticisms of French dramatic poetry in the Aesthetics concern chiefly the issue of portrayal of character. But his distaste for French drama finds additional confirmation in what he, like Lessing and many others, sees as a too rigid interpretation of the rules concerning the unities of action, place, and time. 29 Racine's radical interpretation of the unities, however, is perfectly consistent with the idea that tragic guilt is primary in nature. Drama tic invention consists in making something of nothing, at least in part because the true nature of tragic guilt is apparent only when its pri mary character is revealed; and its primary character becomes appar ent only when we see guilt operating in the absence of any act or crime. The restrictive interpretation of the unity of action, time, and place embodied in Racine's theater is thus most appropriate to (mod ern) tragedy because, in its ideal form, the form that would fully real ize or express the nature of (modern) tragic guilt, the tragic action is the "nothing" of which Racine speaks in his preface to Berenice. Many of the features of Racine's overall dramatic style thus relate to the primary character of modern tragic guilt, but so do the character istics of individual tragic heroes and heroines. This is especially true of the character of Eriphile in Iphigenie, whom critics have long iden tified as one of the most important and most tragic of Racine's hero ines. Despite significant differences in their interpretations, Barthes, Green, and Goldmann, for example, all agree that without Eriphile there would be no tragedy of Iphigenie. For Barthes, she is the one gen uinely tragic character (and the one non-family member) in what would otherwise be a family comedy or romance (Sur Racine, 114). For Goldmann, "there is no link between the tragic universe of Eriphile

and the providential universe of Iphigenie" (Le Dieu cache, 404) For Green, Eriphile is the one' Racinian character who truly represents the authentic, Dionysian spirit of (ancient) tragedy: "With the sacri fice of Eriphile, horror religiosus reigns once again on the stage and the sacred with which ancient tragedy was suffused resurfaces after hav ing appeared to have been effaced" (Un Oeil en trap, 214). For each of these critics, Eriphile is thus preeminently tragic not only in the sense that hers is a particularly moving or pathetic fate, but also in the sense that she incarnates the very essence of tragedy itself. This view of her character can be understood in even more depth when it is analyzed in terms of the problem of modern tragic guilt. As nearly every modern commentator of Iphigenie has noted, by far the most striking element in the character of Eriphile is her mas ochism. The term is explicitly employed by Green in connection with his interpretation of her character. But even when the term itself is absent, those who analyze Eriphile are virtually unanimous in seeing the lines in which she describes the origins of her love for Achille as the key to her character and in underscoring the self-destructive na ture they reveal. It is not, she confides to her suivante Doris, his spe cious expressions of sympathy for her plight that have made her love Achille. On the contrary, it is her enemy and captor whom she loves (Iphigenie, act 2, scene 1, pp. 689-90) . There is always a possibility that the audience will give an "economic" interpretation to this declara tion and see it as an admission that she loves Achille despite his being her abductor. Racine, however, ensures that the audience will under stand these lines correctly-he uses Iphigenie to make it implacably clear that Eriphile loves Achille because he is her abductor. In response to Eriphile's protestation that she could not possibly love the man who has devastated her former home of Lesbos, Iphigenie replies:

Yes, you love him, perfidious woman this same furor that you describe to me, And These arms that you saw bathed in blood, These dead, this Lesbos, these ashes, this flame Are the arrows with which love has engraved him in your soul. (Act 2, scene 5, p. 697) Of all Racine's heroines, Eriphile is the one who perhaps best exem plifies the tragic and destructive character of Racinian love, a love in which pleasure and pain are indistinguishable.

126 + PSYCHOANALY S I S AND TRAGEDY Though the masochism of Eriphile is particularly striking, this psy chological trait-but of course it is more than that- is not confmed to her. Green and Mauron, for example, both argue against distinguish ing in too rigid a manner between Eriphile and the other characters of Iphigenie, and between Eriphile and Iphigenie in particular. As they point out, Eriphile and Iphigenie are in fact similar in a profound way-what is explicitly indicated at the end of the play when we learn that Eriphile's real name is also Iphigenie is implicitly indicated throughout the play. As Green puts it, Iphigenie's quick and correct interpretation of the signs of Eriphile's (masochistic) love can signify only that she herself is experienced in such matters ( Un Oeil en trap, 192-93) - that, as I would say, she identifies with it. The scene in which Iphigenie recognizes Eriphile's love for Achille is thus also a rec ognition scene (albeit a tacit one) in another sense. It indicates that Iphigenie is able to understand Eriphile's love for Achille because of a similarity in their situations. That similarity lies not only in her love for Achille but also, and even more importantly, in her steadfast- and masochistic - love for her father, a love that persists even though, or rather, inasmuch as he is ready to sacrifice her on her marriage altar (192) . Iphigenie's ability to understand Eriphile is thus a sign to the audience that Iphigenie's own character must be understood in terms of Eriphile's masochism. Though we learn at the end of the play that Eriphile is literally another Iphigenie, according to Green's interpreta tion we can see in this scene that Iphigenie is another Eriphile. But if there is an Eriphile lurking inside the pure and virtuous Iphigenie, one could argue that there is an Iphigenie (an Eriphile) within all the Racinian characters who are portrayed as being in a masochistic relationship to a parent- that is, who continue to revere a parent who punishes them. There is an Iphigenie in Phedre, who imagines her father, the god Minos, forced to invent a new punish ment for her, his child, as she enters the underworld (Phedre, act 4, scene 6, p. 791); but there is also an Iphigenie in many of Racine's male characters. In his other plays, the situation of the sons who are in conflict with their fathers often mirrors that of Iphigenie, in the sense that Racine underscores their love and respect for the father and at the same time the terrible punishment the father is ready to mete out to the son: Xiphares in Mithradate and Hippolyte are two obvious examples. Roland Barthes has argued that Oedipal conflict is the true basis of

FRE UD AND RACINE + 127 every Racinian tragedy. 30 If this is so, then one would have to add that in his portrayal of the Oedipal situation, Racine indicates that a cer tain masochism is its fundamental element. In Freud's terms, the superego is erected on the ground prepared by the Oedipal complex, and, Racine would add, the Oedipal complex has itself sprung from the terrain of primary masochism. The idea that the masochistic sit uation of Eriphile and Iphigenie can serve as the model for a Racinian Oedipus is supported by a very important parallel between the hero of Sophocles and the heroine of Racine. In the words of B arthes, Eri phile "fervently wishes to die from knowing herself ("veut pleine ment mourir de se connaitre"), thus accomplishing the fundamental tragic contradiction, that of Oedipus" (Sur Racine, p. uo) . Like Oedi pus's, Eriphile's tragic destiny is accomplished in the same moment in which she learns her true identity. When Barthes describes the fundamental conflicts depicted by Racine as so many versions of the Oedipus complex, he tells only part of the story of Racinian tragedy, however. For what is striking about the Oedipal situation in Racine's tragedies generally, and especially in Iphigenie (and Phedre), is that it is so often interpreted from the per spective of the female characters. 31 And when it is interpreted from the standpoint of the male characters, their masochistic relation to the parent is highlighted. Charles Mauron formulates the issue in the clearest and most succinct terms when he writes, "Why Phedre, and why not Oedipus?" (r:Inconscient, 146) . Racine's own contemporaries frequently commented -often negatively- on the femininity or effem inacy of Racine's characters, especially when they are contrasted with the heroes and "virile" heroines of Corneille. 32 This impression, it can be argued, is rooted in the deepest levels of Racine's works and is one more sign of the predominance of a psychology of masochism in his theater, at least if, following Freud, one postulates masochism as being in some sense inherently feminine ("Economic Problem of Mas ochism, " 19:161-63). Here again, however, one can speak of Racine's interpretation of ancient tragedy, in this case of the figure of Oedipus, as a distortion of the initial ancient (unconscious) situation. Or one can see it as pro viding the basis of an analysis and critical reflection on it. From the second perspective, Racine's decision to treat the Oedipal situation in terms of women characters relates to one of the most problematic aspects of Freud's theory of the Oedipus complex and his concomi-

128 + PSYCH OANALYSIS AND TRAG EDY tant theory of the emergence of the superego - the whole question of the "dissolution of the female Oedipus complex." According to Freud, the dissolution of the Oedipus complex. , though complicated, is nonetheless relatively understandable in the case of the boy ("Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex, " 19:177). It is as a result f t is dissoluion that the superego is instituted, through _ _ the mtenonzahon of the Idealized imagos of the parents. In the case of the little boy, these developments occur when he is forced, by the threat of castration, to renounce - or repress - his love for his mother and his hostility toward his father. But, as Freud himself readit v acknowledges, when the psychoanalyst turns to the case of the "our material -for some incomprehensible reason-becomes far more obscure and full of gaps" (19:177) . What causes her to renounce her love for her father is not clear. It is self-evident for Freud that fear of castration cannot be an inducement for her, because she must alrmdl! see herself as castrated - indeed, this recognition of her castration her entryway into the Oedipus complex (19:178) . She has, in effect been "punished" prior to her Oedipal crime, so that now she cannot be punished for it. 33 As a result, the answer to the question of how the little girl is to surmount the Oedipus complex remains "unsatisfac tory, incomplete and vague" (19:179), and Freud, in "Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes, " ac knowledges - in an unusual and highly apologetic series of prefator) remarks - the correspondingly tentative nature of his reflections on the subject (19:248-49). In the end, Freud is left without any explanation for the existence of a eminine sense of guilt; but he makes a virtue out of necessity by argumg that women simply do not have a developed conscience Of sense of justice (19:257-58) . In a passage that clearly recalls Hegel's interpretation of Antigone as the embodiment of the natural (as op posed to rational) ethical principle, Freud writes:

FREUD AND RAC INE + 129 would be accounted for by the modiflcation in the formation of their super-ego which we have inferred above. (19:257-58)
In his discussion of the female Oedipus, Freud thus remain the ful to the current of his thought that tries to derive guilt from

s faith


threat of a specific punishment. That is, he retreats before the prob for it, he lem of feminine guilt, because in order to be able to account sense would have to entertain the possibility of a punishment-or a the of guilt -without a crime. This means he would have to entertain e derivativ as seen be can guilt of possibility that the masculine sense than rather guilt, of a deeper and more primary feminine sense of fell'inine guilt being a (defective) form of masculine guilt. In other words, he would have to accept the hypothesis that the Oedipus com plex itself is played out on a psychic stage that is instituted, framed, and described by just such a feminine sense of guilt. Eriphile's mas ochism and her femininity-but are they different in Racine's (Freud's) terrns? -thus make her an exemplary Racinian character, and, more over, perhaps the tragic character par excellen ce. When Freud's inter pretation of Hamlet is read from the perspective of the primary in other words, masochism of the Racinian characters, we can see, that Shakespeare's Hamlet, or at any rate, Freud's interpretation of it, may well be a distorted version not of Oedipus but of Racine's Iphigenie.

Modern Tragedy and Theory: The Drive for Knowledge

Eriphile's masochism is not her only striking trait, however. Or per haps one should say that her masochism has a second aspect to it. Her masochistic love for Achille is consistently intertw ined with an other motif: her search for knowledge and, more particularly, her quest to learn her true identity. The scene in which Eriphile, through to the audience a long dialogue with her suivante Doris, is introduced 1) . Like the scene 2, act ie, (Iphigen makes this point, albeit obliquely scene as this , other portions of the play directly concerning Eriphile ed within it. a whole has an ironic quality, as does the oracle contain The scene describes Eriphile's character and fate, but in a sense that scene in will become clear only as the play progres ses. This is the was her he that which we learn that Eriphile loves Achille and also abductor from Lesbos. Only later, however, in the celebrated exchange

For women the level of what is ethically normal is different from what it is in men. Their super-ego is never so inexorable, so impersonal, so independent of its emotional origins as we re quire it to be in men. Character-traits which critics of every epoch have brought up against women-that they show Its sense of justice than men, that they are less ready to to the great exigencies of life, that they are more often influenced m their judgements by feelings of affection or hostility-all thew


between Iphigenie and Eriphile, is the relation between these two ele ments fully clarilied, when the audience learns that she loves him because he is her captor. Similarly, the audience learns in this initial scene between Eriphile and Doris that Eriphile cannot know her identity without giving up her life, for, she admits, an oracle has told her, "Unless I perish, I can not know myself" (act 2, scene 1, p. 688) . Doris responds that Eriphile must try to learn her identity nonetheless, for the oracle surely means only that she will die in the sense that she will gain a new name and a new identity as a result of her search. Like the audience, Doris sup poses that the risk of death will discourage Eriphile from trying to learn of her origins. But once we have understood, thanks to Iphige nie, that Eriphile's love for Achille derives from her masochism, we can see the relationship between her quest for self-knowledge and , the peril she faces in that quest in a new light also. As a result of Iphigenie's insight, we can see that if suffering is an inducement for her to love Achille, then it must be the same with knowledge. If Eri phile must suffer or even die in order to gain the knowledge she seeks, this will not deter her but, on the contrary, only spur her on. Death will not be her punishment for knowledge or self-knowledge, it will be the culmination of that knowledge. The interrelationship between Eriphile's masochism and her desire for knowledge is also apparent in the words with which she is described for the audience prior to her first appearance onstage. According to Eurybate, Eriphile has come to Aulide to question Cal chas concerning her "destiny, which she does not know" (act 1, scene 4, p. 685) . This description of her also has the same ironic quality as the oracle's pronouncement that unless she perishes, she cannot know herself. It clearly alludes to her ignorance concerning the iden tity of her parents, but it is phrased in such a way that it refers simul taneously to the fate that awaits her in Aulide - her sacrifice/suicide. The full meaning of these lines, then, becomes clear only with the conclusion of the play: what she has sought all along is self-knowl edge/death. In other words, her quest for self-knowledge is motivated by the same masochism that expresses itself in her love for Achille and in her suicide, and it is this fundamental masochism that propels both her quest for knowledge and her love for Achille toward the same tragic conclusion. Knowledge and masochism are thus intertwined in Eriphile's char-

FREUD AND RACINE + 131 acter much as they appear to be in psychoanalytic theory itself from the moment the displeasure associated with repression and the super ego emerges as a constitutive element in intellectual activity, judg ment, and philosophical speculation. The will to knowledge is so powerful because it too, springs from, or at any rate is originally fused with, the masochistic trend whose primacy is revealed in Eri phile's fate. The image of Eriphile both as an exemplary masochistic and as a modern Oedipus engaged in a quest for knowledge and self knowledge gives new force to the by now familiar idea that the theo rist is of necessity always implicated in his or her theoretical object. Tragic suffering and judgment do indeed have a common root; trag edy and theory, whether psychoanalytical or philosophicat are grounded in the same, archaic sediment. Iphigenie is not simply an anti Oedipus or an anti-Hamlet, but like Antigone, though for somewhat different reasons, it can be used to raise fundamental questions about the models of theory, art, and sex uality derived from Shakespeare's and Sophocles' plays. Once the pri mary nature of masochism is revealed, then theory can no longer self confidently approach the tragic work of art with the certainty that it can resolve the contradiction posed by tragic guilt and thus vindicate both the principles of reason and pleasure. Nor can theory any longer assume that the sexual conforms to those principles. Freud's interpre tation of Oedipus represents an attempt to overcome the contradictory logic of tragedy through a theory of sexuality and the unconscious, but in the end, that contradictory logic proves to be the logic of the unconscious and of sexuality themselves. Theory cannot be the arbiter of the conflict within the field of sexuality and thus cannot overcome it, because the model of the psyche in which guilt would be original has as strong a claim to represent the true picture of the psyche as the model in which guilt is a secondary or later develop ment- and because theory itself is deeply implicated in that conflict by its own affinity with masochism. The answer to the question, Why Phedre (or why Iphigenie) and why not Oedipus? is clear. The feminine characters are central in Racinian tragedy because of the deep link between femininity and masochism, and because of the central role of masochism in relation to Racinian theater and tragic drama as a whole. That is, a common relationship to masochism links the feminine and the tragic and makes the women characters particularly cruciat not just in terms of the action of the




plays but as figures of tragedy itself. The picture of the woman as resentful both of the "defect" that prevents her from fully participat ing in an economy of pleasure and of the man as finding pleasure where she cannot is thus if not negated then transformed. Both the masculine and the feminine now appear as parts of a much more open or mixed economy, in terms of which the identity each assumes in Freud's Oedipal scenario appears to be based on a deeper iden tification that in each case is not only positive but also negative, that is, not only pleasurable, but painful as well .

+ The Sexual Interruption of the Real: + Auerbach and Manon Lescaut

Aesthetic h istorism, followed by general historism, practically orig inated in the second half of the eighteenth century, as a reaction against the European predominance of French classicism. - Erich Auerbach, Mimesis Tragedy and the Real in Auerbach's Mimesis
Erich Auerbach's best-known work, Mimesis: The Representation ofReal ity in Western Literature, stands out as an eminent-if not the most eminent- example of the theory of literary realism. It is a theory that, in Auerbach's own words, traces its origins to "the German intellec tual development during the second half of the eighteenth century which laid the aesthetic foundation of modern realism, " a develop ment that "is currently known as Historism."1 This text has lost very little of its critical force and relevance in a contemporary setting in which the concept of mimesis has been systematically reexamined and criticized. This is no doubt because Auerbach's concepts of the historical and the real provide a critical perspective on the dominant ideologies and theoretical systems of the various historical periods analyzed in Mimesis, a perspective that can also be used to reveal effectively the dogmatic nature of many contemporary theories of his tory and the real as well. 2 Though Auerbach's theory o f literary realism and the philosophy of Hegel have their origins in the same historical period, the same na tional soil, and in several instances, the works of the same writers, many today would argue that they are essentially opposed. Auer bach's thesis that the highest aim of Western literature lies in the rep resentation of reality puts him directly at odds with Hegel, who criticizes the notion of mimesis in the introduction to the Aesthetics. 3 But this opposition is in the final analysis relatively superficial and concerns terminology more than the substance of their interpreta-

134 + THE S EXUAL I NTE RRUPTION OF THE REAL tions of literature. It could be argued that what opposes them in a much deeper way is their respective understandings of "the histori cal" and "the real :' Auerbach appears to reject an essential -if not the essential - aspect of Hegel's philosophy when he repeatedly con demns theoretical systems on the grounds that they are incompatible with the random character of the real. For Auerbach, as for many modern or new historicists, historicism is not systematic and totaliz ing but is concerned, rather, with preserving the unique, the specific, the contingent, and the diverse and with arguing that the real and the historical are to be found in them rather than in an overriding system or totality. Such a view of the relation between Auerbach and Hegel and more broadly between historicism and speculative philosophy is, however, an oversimplification. In the first place, it neglects the crucial role played by specific historical cultures and historical periods, or, in the aesthetic domain, by specific works of art representative of particular historical contexts, in Hegel's philosophy generally and his Aesthetics in particular. It is significant that the Phenomenology and the Aesthetics, the one from the early and the other from the late stages of Hegel's career, both exhibit the same deep concern with history and the same conception of the fundamental task of philosophy. For Hegel that task is to find its reason in history, thus bringing history into the sphere of reason but, equally important, bringing philosophy into the sphere of history. That the real is historical, that history is the overriding frame work within which all other entities must be placed to be understood (by philosophy), that the particular is not just to be subsumed by the general but is instead a necessary mode of the general itself- these arguments had already been made by Hegel before being made by Auerbach. Equally important, the view that Auerbach and Hegel represent antithetical intellectual tendencies is also an oversimplification of his toricism in general and of Auerbach's work in particular. Given the emphasis Auerbach places on randomness in defining the real, it comes as no surprise that he defends the random character of Mimesis itself, particularly in the epilogue.4 Nonetheless, his narrative of the history of Western literature is in fact highly structured, and the cri teria according to which works are chosen and treated in it highly con sistent. Foremost among the elements determining that structure and those criteria is what should be called a hidden dialectic, which

AUERBACH AND MANON LESCAUT + 135 shapes Mimesis no less than an explicit and open dialectic shapes the philosophy of Hegel . The difference is that, unlike Hegel's dialectic, Auerbach's must remain hidden. Were it to emerge explicitly, his own narrative would lose its random, contingent appearance - its own lit erary-historical realism . The dialectic underlying Auerbach's realism is evident in the triad, or series of triads, that structures his narrative. In these triads, the third term represents the other two and, as in Hegel's dialectic, there by reconciles them. The triadic structure of Mimesis is elaborated in subtle and varied ways: one of the terms of an antithesis may be sup plied long after the other, and the resolution of a given antithesis is not always immediately revealed. Nonetheless, this structure is clearly discernible in Auerbach's work, and once set in place, however dis creetly, it becomes "a conceptual machinery that nothing is capable of withstanding, " to borrow a phrase Heidegger uses to describe the opposition between form and content5 - or, as I shall argue, that almost nothing is capable of withstanding. Just as Hegel's dialectic hits a snag with the "age of modern tragedy, " so Auerbach's more sub tle and supple dialectic stalls or is interrupted in the eighteenth cen tury. In Mimesis, the literature of the eighteenth century represents a false step on the path that leads both to the "serious realism" of the nineteenth-century French novel and to historicism, the conceptual mimesis of serlous realism. Like Hegel's dialectic, the dialectic of realism recognizes no genu ine other: in principle all literary examples are for Auerbach examples of realism, and all have their place in the history of realism. Still, lit erary realism does have its antitheses, and one of the most important is found in the chapter of Mimesis devoted to an analysis of French neoclassical drama, especially the plays of Moliere and Racine. Auer bach considers the conventions of the neoclassical stage both from the standpoint of the ethos of Moliere's honnete homme and from that of Racine's heroes, whose awareness of their princely rank is so strong that it never leaves them for a moment . But though he refers to both comedies and tragedies in making his argument in this chap ter, the essence of Auerbach's argument concerns tragedy. What neoclassical comedy and tragedy have in common, according to Auer bach, is that they empty dramatic poetry of its reality, and this anti realist tendency is exemplified in its purest form in neoclassical tragedy: "The classic tragedy of the French represents the ultimate

136 + THE S EXUAL INTE RRUPTION OF THE REAL extreme in the separation of styles, in the severance of the tragic from the everyday and real, attained by European literature" (Mimesis, 341) Auerbach of course never defines the real systematically but instead adduces qualities to it as his narrative progresses. Nonetheless, a se ries of characteristics emerges in the chapter on French neoclassical drama as central to that realism. The everyday, the m:tural, and the "creatural, " Auerbach argues, are all missing to a great extent from the plays of Corneille and Moliere and are entirely lacking in Racine's work, and the absence of these specific qualities is for Auerbach indic ative of their lack of realism. As he uses them, the concepts of the everyday, the natural, and the creatural appear to overlap to some extent, but each nonetheless captures a specific tendency of the real as he understands it. By the everyday, Auerbach means especially the practical business of daily life, which is missing both in Moliere's comedies (324) and in Racine's tragedies, where the "actual function of rulership" is never made apparent "except through the most gen eral allusions" (332) to the activities of the princely heroes. By the nat ural, he means the complex, multilayered character of reality, as we learn when he contrasts Shakespeare, whom he considers to be not so much a preeminent tragic poet as a preeminent realist, with the French and Greek dramatists. In the chapter of Mimesis devoted to Shakespeare's Henry IV, Auer bach spells out further the opposition between the real and the tragic. Whereas he consistently compares Racine and Euripides, he just as consistently contrasts Shakespeare with Euripides in particu lar and the Greek tragic poets in general. Shakespeare's crucial place in Auerbach's Mimesis stems not from his importance as a poet of the tragic but, rather, from the way he subverts the tragic genre and sal vages it for realism. He does this, of course, through a "mixture of tragic and comic elements" (275), thus ignoring the separation of styles. But there is more. His plays also capture the real and history in the sense that his "ethical and intellectual world is much more agi tated, multi-layered, and, apart from any specific dramatic action, more dramatic than that of antiquity" (285). This statement alludes back to something Auerbach has told us in the opening chapter, namely that "the historical event which we witness or learn about from the testimony of those who witnessed it runs much more vari ously, contradictorily, and confusedly" than in legend (16) - or, he might have added, than in Greek or French neoclassical tragedy.

AUERBACH AND MANON LESCAUT + 137 The everyday and natural aspects of the real are united in the third, the creatural, by which Auerbach means the concrete existence of the literary characters, including their bodily existence, with its attendant vicissitudes. The creatural is characteristic for Auerbach of "Christian anthropology, " which "emphasizes man's subjection to suffering and transitoriness" (218). Othr early examples of it are found in bour geois literature of the late feudal age. In the farces of this period, human sexuality enters onto the literary stage, and in the historical narrative, human mortality enters as well (216) . The creatural thus unites several aspects of the real that come into conflict in other peri ods of the history of Western literature. By encompassing both the bodily and sexual, on the one hand, and the suffering of mortality, on the other, the creatural brings together the preeminent themes of both comedy and tragedy, and it thus implies the need for a mixture of styles, which for Auerbach is typical of all great works of literary realism. The creatural, he argues, is by and large missing from neo classical drama, and insofar as one can cite examples of it, they appear only "on the comic stage, and even there only within certain limits" (339) . The "classic tragedy of the French" is thus for Auerbach the antithe sis of the real and the historical, understood as the natural, the every day, and, above all, the creatural. This assessment should not lead one to conclude that Auerbach, like Hegel, views French neoclassical tragedy as a degraded version of an older and purer model. It is par ticularly striking that Auerbach's history of "the representation of real ity in Western literature" contains few references to the Greek tragic poets, whose names and works loom so large in Hegel's narratives of the Western tradition. Auerbach's history of realism begins instead with Homer and the Bible: Greek tragedy, he stresses in an aside, developed only much later, as a result of the separation of styles, which left no room for realism (19) . He does not feel the need to dis cuss Greek tragedy because, like neoclassical tragedy, it too separates the tragic from the real, albeit not in such an extreme manner as French tragedy (326) . As a result, its role in the history of Western lit erature can be performed or represented just as well by French neo classical tragedy. At bottom, then, Auerbach's assessment of French neoclassical trag edy is no more positive than that of Hegel . If it nonetheless has a more important place in Mimesis than Hegel gives it in the Aesthetics,

138 + THE S EXUAL I NTERRUPTIO N OF THE REAL it is for an eminently Hegelian reason: because, for Auerbach, its neg ativity still participates in the common substance of creatural realism. French tragedy is retained and raised to a higher level by what Auer bach calls the "modern tragic realism" (404) of Stendhal, Balzac, and Flaubert (424-25) . Modern tragic realism or "objective seriousness" (432), as he also calls it, subjects the tragic as Racine understood it to the operations that constitute the dialectical process . The tragic is hrst negated: Stendhal, Flaubert, and Balzac present concrete historical sit uations and characters and their concrete bodily existence rather than the disembodied and abstract princely heroes and heroines of neo classical tragedy. But rather than treating these situations and charac ters in the manner of classical comedy-which represents the cre atural to an extent, but at the cost of giving it any tragic or serious significance - objective seriousness raises the creatural to the higher level of modern (nineteenth-century) realism. In this sense, it retains the tragic along with the creatural and elevates both to the level of an absolute or pure form of realism. Auerbach's account of the movement that culminates in nineteenth century realism thus reconciles the conflict between the aesthetics of the seventeenth and the nineteenth centuries . In doing so, it also rec onciles what is implicitly a deep and prolonged conflict, extending from ancient times to the seventeenth century, between the tragic and the creatural or between tragedy and realism. Though Auerbach re peatedly reminds us that each age in the history of realism is incom parable and unique, the opposition between realism and the tragic is not conhned to one age but is in effect transhistorical. The history of the representation of reality is not just divided into different historical epochs; it is also even more deeply divided "down the middle" by the opposition between the tragic and the real. The importance Auerbach attaches to nineteenth-century realism is all the more understandable when one considers that without such a pure form of realism, in terms of which all the other historical forms of realism can be uniii.ed and understood, the history of realism would not be a history at all. It would instead be something more closely resembling a neoclassical drama about an irreducible, "tragic" conflict between historical real ism and tragedy.


Eighteenth-Century French Literature: The Intermediate Genres "before" Realism

When Auerbach is read critically, the search for a resolution to the underlying conflict between the real and the tragic appears as a powerful motor force driving his interpretation of Western literature. Profound though this conflict appears, however, it can be- and is overcome in Auerbach's terms. In this sense, the age of neoclassical tragedy constitutes a negative term, but one that can nonetheless be recuperated by the dialectic of realism. In and of itself, the tragic is not disruptive of the dialectical pattern structuring Auerbach's history of Western literature, but instead gives it a dynamic and complex charac ter without detracting from its ultimate, overall unity and continuity. And yet there is a dead space in the narrative of Mimesis that coin cides with eighteenth-century French literature. Unlike neoclassical tragedy, eighteenth-century French literature does not constitute a dialectically recuperable opposite of the age of realism. In the eigh teenth century as described by Auerbach, we see a coming together of the real and the tragic that is neither altogether different from nor the same as what we see in his analysis of nineteenth-century realism (or neoclassical tragedy) . Like the modern tragic realism of Stendhal and Balzac, this eighteenthcentury literature links the tragic and the real. Nonetheless, in a manner that totally contravenes the dialectical spirit in which Auerbach otherwise approaches the various historical versions of realism and reality, the eighteenth-century version of real ism is excluded by Auerbach from the real. As a result, eighteenth century literature as a whole is also excluded from the dialectical nar rative of the history of Western literature, or- what amounts to the same thing - it comes to represent an interruption of it . There are representatives of the literature of the eighteenth cen tury in Auerbach's Mimesis: Saint-Simon, Voltaire, Prevost, Schiller, and Goethe. Signihcantly, Auerbach claims that Saint-Simon, whose work is the only wholly positive example of realism that he ii.nds in this period, "did not ht into his age" (366) . Voltaire, Schiller, and Goethe are all in the end dismissed because, in one way or another, their literary works betray the essence of literature and literary real ism by mixing literature and politics, either directly, as in the case of Voltaire and Schiller, or indirectly, as in the case of Goethe.6 Prevost's Manon Lescaut, however, does not suffer from this defect, but it too,

140 + THE SEXUAL I NTERRUPTION OF THE REAL Auerbach asserts, represents a failure to attain realism. Among the works of the period treated in Mimesis, the special signif:tcance of Prevost's novel is that, from Auerbach's own standpoint, its failure is properly literary. In this sense it represents what are in his eyes the properly literary failings of eighteenth-century literature as a whole. The irony of the portrait of the literary art of the eighteenth century that emerges in Auerbach's analysis of Prevost is that it should be so negative. As Auerbach himself shows, its aims are very close to those of both modern tragic realism and historicism itsel.7 We do not have to wait for Balzac or Flaubert-their sense of detail and their use of observations from everyday life are already found in Manon Lescaut, as Auerbach points out in a passage where Prevost's own profusion with details is mimed: "When the occasion permits, clothes, utensils, furnishings are described or evoked with coquettish meticulousness and great delight in movement and color. . . . We hear a great deal about money; there are lackeys, inns, prisons; officials appear; a scene outside a theater is carefully delineated, even to the name of the street; . . . there is realism everywhere" (351). Manon Lescaut exemplifies Auerbach's own notion of realism not only from the standpoint of these details drawn from everyday life, however, but also from that of the fusion of genres or styles. "There is no question of any strict separation of styles" in Manon Lescaut (351) . The everyday is present and furthermore so is the tragic, that other crucial element of modern tragic realism. Present, that is, in what Auerbach considers to be a degraded form. "The story even ends trag ically, " he notes in passing (353). Moreover, the language of the char acters is often the language of tragic heroes, but given the situations into which it is transposed by Prevost, it evokes not neoclassical trag edy but, rather, the comedie larmoyante, that is, the (melo)drama of Prevost's own day (352). Even for Auerbach, to put the lofty language of tragedy in the mouths of characters depicted in concretely histori cal terms is clearly an example of the mixture of styles, which is a cru cial element of realism. But instead of judging Prevost's mixture to be a synthesis of the tragic and the everyday, Auerbach considers it to be one sign among others of the "tearful sentimentality" and "ethical frivolity" of Manon Lescaut (351). Though the defects of Manon Lescaut stem in large measure, accord ing to Auerbach, from the shallowness of its author (352), in the last

AUERBACH AND MANON LESCAUT + 141 analysis, he argues, they nonetheless also exemplify the weaknesses of the literature of the entire age: The tragic exaltation of the classical hero loses ground from the beginning of the eighteenth century. Tragedy itself becomes more colorful and clever with V oltaire, but it loses weight. But in its stead the intermediate genres, such as the novel and the nar rative in verse, begin to flourish, and between tragedy and comedy we now have the intermediate comedie larmayante . . . . In its intermediate level the erotic and sentimental style of Manon Lescaut coincides with Voltaire's style in propaganda . . . . And so we must conclude that, in contrast to classicism, a mix ing of styles now occurs once again. But it does not go far or very deep either in its realism or its seriousness. (362) Instead of a genuine realism, which blends together the creatural and the tragic, Manon Lescaut offers us a shallow realism, which results from a mixture of mere sentimentality in the place of tragic serious ness, and eroticism in place of the creatural. Eighteenth-century literature thus appears to be guilty of two fail ings. Its failure to depict the creatural is the graver one, however, because it is ultimately the erotic character of eighteenth-century liter ature that degrades its seriousness to sentimentality, thus eroding any claim it might have to be either the legitimate heir of an earlier tragic literature or the progenitor of ninetheenth-century realism. In Manon Lescaut we see, according to Auerbach, an undistinguished sort of corruption; it lacks all greatness and dignity; but the author does not seem to feel this. There is some thing exemplary about the Chevalier's frenzied sexual thraldom and Manon's almost ingenuous amorality, precisely by virtue of their lack of distinction . . . . With the lack of distinction in vice goes an equally undistinguished conception of virtue. It is con cerned entirely with sex, with order or disorder in conducting one's sex life, and hence is itself steeped in eroticism. What is meant by virtue in this instance cannot be imagined detached from the whole apparatus of erotic sensations. (352) Whereas the creatural admits the sexual into the real by subordinat ing it to what for Auerbach are serious, ethical concerns, in Manon Les caut we see a form of the sexual that has overpowered the ethical and the serious and given them its character.

142 + THE S EXUAL INTERRUPTION OF THE REAL The degradation of the tragic by the erotic, moreover, is not confmed to Manon Lescaut but is, rather, as Auerbach goes on to argue, characteristic of much eighteenth-century literature: The pleasure which [Prevost] endeavors to evoke in his readers by his representation of his lovers' childishly playful and unprin cipled corruption, is in the last analysis a sexual titillation, which is constantly interpreted in sentimental and ethical terms while the warmth it evokes is abused to produce a sentimental ethics. This mixture is often found in the eighteenth century. Diderot's ethical attitudes are still rooted in an enthusiastic sen timentality in which the erotic plays a part; and even Rousseau still shows traces of it. (352-53) Thus it is not just Prevost (or even Voltaire) who is being condemned in "The Interrupted Supper, " but rather the major literary figures of an entire age. What is "interrupted, " according to Auerbach's read ing, is not just des Grieux's supper with Manon but the unfolding of the history of realism itself, the dialectical process by which even the negative moments in that history participate in the movement that leads to the full realization of realism. And the element that inter rupts that dialectical process is the erotic, understood as an "exces sive" form of sexuality that does not remain within the bounds pre scribed for it by the creatural.8 Once the systematic nature of Auerbach's concept of realism is made explicit, it becomes possible to question the presuppositions that sus tain it. Moreover, because of the special place he gives it, Manon Lescaut may be viewed as a crucial testing ground for the assumptions underly ing the system of aesthetic values and assumptions structuring Auer _ bach's dialectic of realism, and in particular his exclusion of the erotic or the sexual from the real. In Manon Lescaut, the sexual emerges not as a degradation of the tragic but, rather, as a crucial element of it. And because of the role the sexual plays in relation to the tragic, the tragic itself takes on a disruptive significance in relation to Auerbach's notion of the real. A tragic in terms of which the sexual plays a decisive role is not dialectically recuperable in the same sense that Auerbach's concep tion of the tragic is. In the form they take in Manon Lescaut, the sexual and the tragic cannot be integrated into the dialectic of realism, but at the same time they now no longer can be used to represent a defective vision of reality as Auerbach would have it.
Manon Lescaut as Tragedy


The search for one or more intermediate genres, as Auerbach states, is a driving force in much of the literature of the Enlightenment. The intermediate genre that many of the leading literary figures hope to create would be a synthesis of comedy and tragedy. But, with the pos sible exception of Beaumarchais, what they seek is not a less tragic or more "comic" tragedy, but rather a tragedy that provides a more serious treatment of historical materials and whose subjects are drawn from the everyday lives of the members of a society that is increasingly bourgeois in its outlook. That is to say, what they want, above all, is to modernize tragedy. 9 Though the abbe Prevost wrote no extended critical text or critical appreciation of his own work, his novels contain literary references that can be used to situate them within the group of literary works exemplifying a self-conscious search for an intermediate genre, under stood as a modern version or modern form of tragedy. Manon Lescaut itself contains only one overt literary reference, but it is, significantly, to Racine. When des Grieux asks Manon if she isn't tempted by the gifts offered to her by the son of a man who had her incarcerated in the Hopital, she responds ''by tailoring two verses of Racine to her thought:'10 In this passage, Manon herself mixes the styles of tragedy and realism, but in a self-conscious and ironic manner. Another passage, not from Manon Lescaut itself but from the larger work of which it is a part- the Memoires et avantures d'un homme de qualite- refers to Racine in a similar manner. In it the characters amuse themselves by recreating one of Racine's tragedies in a setting in which its conventions appear out of place and even ludicrous. The homme de qualite, his friend the marquis de Sevigne, and the mar quis's mistress, an actress, decide to amuse themselves at the expense of a friend, a hapless abbe: We carried out the project of the marquis, which was to have the abbe de Cogan recite a scene from Racine; he agreed to do it. We put him in a wig and a beribboned costume, etc. to play the role of Titus. I have never laughed so wholeheartedly. The actress was enchanting as Berenice. The poor abbe, who had never exer cised his speaking talent except in some miserable sermon, ex pressed the agitation of Titus in a perfectly ridiculous manner.11

144 + THE SEXUAL INTERRUPTION OF THE REAL Despite the differences in the two situations and casts of charac ters, Prevost's general thrust is the same, whether Manon cites Iphige nie or the abbe plays Titus. Prevost's evocation of Racine underscores the distance that separates his characters' world from that of tragedy, but at the same time it indicates that the ideal of tragedy is still rele vant to understanding what happens in Manon Lescaut. He warns us that his work is a modern tragedy whose relationship to those of le grand siecle is ironic, but at the same time he invites us to compare his works with those of Racine. Prevost's construction of character is an important feature of his work which can be better understood when it is compared to the trag edies of Racine than to the novels of Stendhal or Balzac, at least as Auerbach interprets them. The concreteness and wealth of detail in Manon Lescaut, as Auerbach notes, pertain to the world in which des Grieux and Manon live but not to the characters themselves. Manon's physical image is totally abstract. We are told she is beautiful, but the narrator never describes her in detail, any more than he does des Grieux. And Manon is equally abstract in psychological terms. The nagging question that has occurred to every reader of the work and is also the focus of much criticism of the novel - Does she really love des Grieux?- is so persistent precisely because of this abstractness, because the personality or individuality (to use Hegel's term) in which the puzzle might resolve itself, the psychological essence of her character, remains hidden from the reader.12 If Manon and des Grieux appear as frivolous, it is in large measure because of this abstraction. Because of their remoteness, it is always possible, in terms of a realism such as Auerbach's, to fill the void created by their lack of individuality with hypocrisy and a self serving attitude. Recent feminist interpretations of Manon Lescaut, however, provide a different perspective on Manon's character in par ticular. According to these readings, Manon's remoteness is a neces sary consequence of the narrative perspective, that of the homme de qualite, which privileges des Grieux's voice exclusively. Manon's in scrutability as a character is not a sign of her superficiality, according to this view, but, rather, of the radical alterity of the feminine with respect to discourse, which is in some fundamental way imprisoned in masculinity and unable to reach out beyond itself. This perspective has an undeniable critical force in relation to the general problems of narration, language, and sexuality, and it opens up the problem of

AUE RBACH AND MANON LESCAUT + 145 the construction of character in Manon Lescaut closed off by Auerbach's theory of literary realism. From the standpoint of such a critique, it appears that Auerbach m:ust of necessity treat Manon's character as superficial and frivolous ecause his concept of the subject is unprob lematic, and therefore he can interpret only as defective a form of sub jectivity that does not conform to his own idea of it. The feminist reading places the question of Manon's character in a new light, but it is equally important in terms of the way it opens up the question not just of feminine subjectivity, but of subjectivity or individuality in general. In terms of Manon Lescaut, the opacity of Manon's character leads almost immediately to the problems posed by des Grieux's equal remoteness. Does he really love decency and honor as much as he claims, or are his protestations merely the hypo critical mask worn by his passion for Manon? The character of Tiberge is problematic in a similar sense. Is his devotion to religion as whole hearted as he claims, or does not the continual aid he offers to des Grieux in the name of friendship indicate his continuing attachment to and fascination with the secular world? Questions such as these, however, imply that we are dealing with characters in a novel by Stendhal or Balzac (and interpreted by Auerbach), characters with a unifying, psychological principle that informs, if it does not dictate, their behavior and in terms of which any conflicts manifested in that behavior can ultimately be overcome. This is, of course, not necessar ily the case. In his Aesthetics, Hegel tells us that tragedy offers a very different model for the construction of character, and he points to Antigone in support of his assertion. For Hegel, the difference between the char acters of Antigone, the supreme tragedy, and the characters of other, essentially comic dramatic and literary works is the difference be tween character conceived as the concrete and individualized repre sentation of the moral substance and character conceived as a unique and specific individual: In tragedy the whole treatment and execution presents what is substantial and fundamental in the characters and their aims and conflicts, while in comedy the central thing is the character's inner life and his private personality. (Aesthetics, 1205) The true content of the tragic action is provided, so far as con cerns the aims adopted by the tragic characters, by the range of


the substantive and independently justified [ethical] powers that influence the human will . . . . A similar excellence belongs to the genuinely tragic characters. (1194) From the perspective that Hegel provides' in these two passages, it would thus be utterly foolish to ask what Antigone's true feelings are about the ethical power or the aspect of the ethica l substance of which she is a concretization, for she has little or no feeling and little or no individuality independent of that ethical power . To an important extent, Manon, des Grieux, and Tiberg e, like Anti gone, can be understood as the embodiments of eleme nts of the eth ical substance, that is, of the larger society conceived of as a creation of human will. But the conflicts among the ethical power s of the soci ety of Tiberge, des Grieux, and Manon cannot be reduced to the conflict between state and family, the law of man and the law of woman, which Hegel finds in Antigone. In the case of Tiberge, the eth ical power in question is that of religion. In the case of des Grieux, it could be considered to be love. And in the case of Mano n, it is the sex ual or the erotic as such, an ethical power denied ethical status by the dominant forces of the society, as it is denied realistic status by Auer bach, but present nonetheless. The character of Mano n offers a chal lenge to Auerbach's concept of realism, not only becau se of its lack of depth and individuality, which he condemns as super ficiality and frivolousness, but also because the ethical power that provides her character with its substance is exclud ed by him from the real. As we have seen, Hegel holds that the different aspects of the ethical substance are realized and individualized as conflict, albeit a conflict that is superficial with respect both to the indivisibility and harmo ny of the ethical whole and to the firmness of each individual tragic charac ter. In Manon Lescaut, too, the conflicts that divide and unite the various characters reveal both the different aspects of the ethical substa nce and their common, ethical nature. But what differentiates Prevos t's charac ters and their world from those of Antigone, as Hegel interprets it, is that in their world and in their individual characters we can also see the fun damental nature of the division between the different ethical powers. The conflict between the different ethical powers -or, in more moder n terms, between the different values and codes of conduct of society - is irresolvable because each is equally ethical or-what amounts to the same thing- is equally unethical from the perspective of the others.



Before considering the characters of des Grieux and Manon, it is useful to look at Tiberge in order to understand the logic of conflict that structures the ethical world of Prevost's characters and gives each its relative distinctness. At first glance, the character of Tiberge ap pears far less important than that of Manon or des Grieux, and the religious values he constantly affirms appear largely irrelevant to the action of the novel . Nonetheless, when one considers the work of Prevost as a whole, the importance of the theme of religion is self evident. One has only to think of the passage quoted earlier in which an abbe plays the role of Titus to become aware of one of the most important conflicts structuring Prevost's work in general and Manon Lescaut in particular: the conflict between religion and the secular world. Underlying the laughter of the homme de qualite when he sees the abbe declaiming lines written for Berenice's lover is the acknowl edgement of a deep separation between the two. The recurring allu sions to Jansenism throughout the Memoires et avantures, but espe cially in the early sections of the novel, are another indication not only of the importance Prevost attaches to religion generally speaking but also of the specific role religion plays in his novels. All the spokes men for Jansenism who appear in the novel - and they include Ar nauld and even Racine -reduce it to a single, crucial feature. For them religion is above all an opposition to and a retreat from the secular world. The life story of the homme de qualite, who narrates des Grieux and Manon's story, exemplifies the ethical power and significance of religion when he retreats more than once from the world. Religion is equally important in determining the character of des Grieux's world, where it is personified by his friend Tiberge. If, in terms of the unfolding of the narrative, this character could be consid ered to have only secondary importance, he is a character of the first order for understanding the tragic dimension of the novel as a whole. In the broadest terms, the novel can be read as a struggle between Manon and Tiberge, between love and religion, for the allegiance of des Grieux. It could be argued, of course, that Tiberge's hold on des Grieux is extremely weak, and that as a result the ethical force of reli gion is being undermined rather than affirmed by the novel. But if des Grieux never does what Tiberge would like him to do, neither is he willing to accept many of Manon's suggestions, despite the inten sity of his attachment for her. In this sense, Tiberge's moral authority represents a limitation of the authority of Manon.

148 + THE SEXUAL I NTERRUPTION OF THE REAL The figure of des Grieux presents a greater challenge to the inter pretation of Manon Lescaut from the standpoint of tragedy. Certainly from the perspective of Auerbach, there is nothing particularly ethi cal about the power he represents, and des Grieux's attempt to give dignity to his love appears to be sheer bad faith . The objection Auer bach raises, which of course does not apply to Prevost alone, is a theme of the literary criticism of Prevost's own period, of which Voltaire's prefaces to his own tragedies offer a good example. Central to a number of those texts is the question of whether or not love is a proper subject for tragedy. This discussion relates directly to Voltaire's assessment of the importance of Racine's work, for if tragedy and love do not mix, then Racine and French theater generally can no longer claim to be the preeminent literature of the modern age : "Our nation is reproached with having made theater soft by too much tender ness."13 Voltaire's answer to the question is thus predictable in its major lines. He argues that, in Racine's plays at least, the tragic is not degraded by love, but, rather, the two are perfectly synthesized.14 And yet even Voltaire seems at times to question his own position on the issue of love - and on the excellence of Racine's work. In a letter to Mademoiselle Clairon, he writes, "I dare say that in general the tragedies that can subsist without this passion [love] are without question the best."15 If, despite his admiration for Racine and French theater generally, Voltaire makes such an admission, it is because there is for him a risk associated with the dominance of the theme of love, a risk of effemi nacy. "To want to put love in all tragedies seems to me to be an effemi nate taste" ("Discours sur la tragedie, " 323), and thus, implicitly, any play in which love is the dominant interest may end up emasculating tragedy. A similar view underlies A. W. Schlegel's critique of Racine's Phedre in his "Comparaison entre la Phedre de Racine et celle d'Euripide."16 Racine's play has several defects in Schlegel's eyes: the decision to treat Phedre as the principal character, to show Hippolyte to be in love with Aricie, and correspondingly, to degrade the purity of Hippolyte's character. But all of these converge in his judgment that "the French poet, by denaturing and giving less weight to ("emoussant") the character of Hippolyte, destroyed the beautiful contrast that existed between him and Phedre" (360). Prevost's affinity with Racine is especially evident in terms of the weight and character of love in his novel. Prevost's novel does in part

AUERB ACH AND MANON LESCAUT + 149 confirm the picture of the effeminization of the tragic by the predom inance of love that Voltaire indirectly and Schlegel directly attribute to Racine's plays. In Manon Lescaut, des Grieux's need for money soon causes him to turn to Manon's brother, Lescaut. Among other things Lescaut proposes to him is that des Grieux himself should let Lescaut introduce him to "some old and generous lady" who would make his fortune in the same manner that Manon's rich lovers have in the past made hers (Manon Lescaut, 68). Prevost also "destroys the . . . con trast" between des Grieux and Manon in the scene describing Manon's escape, with the help of des Grieux, from her imprisonment in the Hopital . He brings with him, hidden under a large outer gar ment, the clothes she will need to disguise herself with in order to facilitate her getaway- all except a pair of pants. His solution is to give his own pants to Manon and hope that his outer garment will cover him sufficiently (108). In another episode, des Grieux is placed in an effeminate position by Manon herself, when she rejects the offers of an Italian prince who seeks to make her his mistress. She does this in a spectacular manner, by confronting the prince with the image of the handsome young man whose hair and attire she has spent the better part of the day arranging as coquettishly as possible in preparation for the visit of the prince. Though a certain effeminization of the characters can be seen in both Racine's plays and Prevost's novel, both nonetheless indicate that this effeminization cannot be simply equated with degradation. Prevost's references to Ben?nice are particularly relevant in this regard, since this play is about the dual nature of love -that is, about the ten sion between love and duty, but also about the ethical power of love. For Racine, as for Prevost, love is not merely an expression of individ ual will or desire. It also channels or forms desire, giving it direction and discipline. As a youth, Titus, "raised in the court of Nero, " was little more than a pleasure seeker. All that changed when he met Berenice, and both his military successes and his good works stem directly from his love for her.17 Though his sense of obligation to Rome eventually causes him to renounce Berenice, the ethical nature of his love has already prepared him to fulfill the even higher ethical demands of the state. Such an interpretation clearly opens the door for a sentimental exal tation of love which endows petty emotion with a false tragic grandeur, as is indirectly acknowledged in an earlier section of the Memoires

150 + THE S EXUAL I NTERRUPTION OF THE REAL et avantures. Auerbach criticizes Prevost for his "tearful sentimental ity, " but Prevost himself criticizes Racine in essentially the same vein when, through the mouth of a Spanish nobleman, he characterizes Racine as a pleureux and praises Corneille as the true tragic play wright (Memoires et avantures, 1:394). Nonetheless, Manon Lescaut, like Berenice, focuses on the ethical nature of love, by opposing it to merely sensual passion. Very early in the novel, we see des Grieux rejecting the substitutes for Manon offered to him by his father, who is convinced that his son has a weak ness for women in general. Later on, we will see him reject the pros titute Manon sends to him as her replacement when she is unable or unwilling to leave G - M - fils. The ethical nature of des Grieux's love is also evident in that it places him in conflict with his society and religion. No one in des Grieux's world thinks of condemning B-, G- M - , or G- M- fils for having a mistress, any more than they would condemn des Grieux himself, if Manon were only a mis tress. Just as, in Hegel's reading of Antigone, the conflict between An tigone and Creon stems from the ethical nature of the claims of each, so des Grieux's love brings him into conflict with the dominant, pater nal, ethical powers of his society precisely because it is also an ethical power, but of another sort. Behind the question of the ethical nature of des Grieux's love for Manon, however, stands the question of the ethical nature of Manon herself. In her case, it seems even more difficult not to come to the same conclusion as Auerbach, for whom she represents a counter force to the ethical: that is, pleasure, the erotic, the sexuaL But Auerbach's reading of Manon Lescaut overlooks the points that form the basis of the ethical claim of pleasure and sexual passion in the novel. One of the most important of these is that the pleasure in ques tion is primarily Manon's. It is easy to see that the society of des Grieux and Manon views their love as a scandal, that it represents a challenge to the very struc ture of a society that permits the moneyed classes to buy women of a different class, to marry women of the same class, but not to love women of a different class. What is perhaps less obvious is that the same mechanisms that censor des Grieux's love for Manon also cen sor passion and pleasure in general, and specifically the passion and pleasure of the woman. The existence of this not-so-hidden censor- ship accounts for the fact that in this world there are only two stable

AUERBACH AND MANON LESCAUT + 151 positions the woman can occupy, wife or prostitute. In each of these, the woman is cut off from spontaneity and pleasure and subjected to an extra dose of repression over and above what men experience. For the respectable woman, marriage is in principle a renunciation of plea sure insofar as she has nowhere to turn should the marriage be an em ty one. For the man, marriage may entail the renunciation of plea sure, but not as a matter of principle, since respectable society none theless tolerates prostitution- as is attested when des Grieux's father offers to provide him with a mistress in order to take his mind off Manon. However, the prostitute is also denied pleasure, inasmuch as her desire is subordinated to that of a paying customer, or, just as bad, to a panderer or madam.18 Thus, while des Grieux finds himself in conflict with a series of father-figures who embody the repressive force and hypocrisy of soci ety, Manon is involved in a perhaps even more intense conflict with paternal authority. Indeed, in Prevost's novels, where conflict between father and son looms so large, the only example of patricide occurs in his Campagnes philosophiques, when a father is killed by his daughter, mademoiselle Fidert, a heroine who stands out in Prevost's oeuvre along with Manon on account of the intensity and force of her sexual passion.19 In the context of a hypocritical society, which denies pleasure to women and makes them -whether through marriage or prostitution - the property of men, Manon's persistent quest for plea sure does in fact take on an ethical dimension. Only a love or mar riage that would reconcile itself with her pleasure could claim to represent ethical values. The notion that Manon Lescaut is constructed to an important extent according to the principles of tragedy accounts for the relative ab stractness and remoteness of Prevost's characters. It also accounts for a second striking characteristic of the novel: the dramatic series of reversals that structure its action and the character's behavior. Like so many classical and neoclassical tragedies, Prevost's novels contain any number of abrupt about-faces, in which the character or situation shifts from one extreme to another-in direct contrast to the historical principle favored by Auerbach according to which the action and the characters evolve gradually and continuously. Using the example of Racine, one could argue that these reversals are only possible and believable because both the initial situation and the sudden reversal of it are in a deeper sense identical, and their function in the drama





is to point up that identity. At one moment Hermione can wish aloud that Pyrrhus be killed and in the next want to kill his murderer, Rox ane can offer Bajazet a place on the throne or in the grave, because in their universe love and hate are fundamentally one, two sides of a sin gle passion that enslaves one subject to the other and thus creates the profound ambivalence felt more often than not by Racine's heroes toward those they love. In a similar fashion, des Grieux can be a novice at Saint-Sulpice, on the point of taking his fmal religious vows, and at the next moment leave Saint-Sulpice behind with no thought other than of Manon, because religion and love are structurally similar. Both are absolute values demanding total commitment from the individual character. Because both are absolute, they are of necessity antagonistic, so that a character cannot be faithful to one without betraying the other. The structural similarity of the conflicting ethical powers thus explains more than one paradox in the novel. Des Grieux's aptitude for reli gious life - his achievements at Saint-Sulpice, his gifts as a student of theology, and his religious feeling - is the same as his aptitude for love. Similarly, Manon, when she comes to Saint-Sulpice to see des Grieux, will abruptly renounce pleasure for love, just as she will abruptly renounce love for pleasure in other sudden reversals of char acter. Like des Grieux, who experiences love and religion as structur ally similar and hence competing absolute values, she will experience pleasure and love as irreconcilable but will remain attached to each for the same reason. Of course, not all of Manon Lescaut can be interpreted from the standpoint of Antigone or Berenice. There is a whole side of the novel that relates much more clearly and immediately to Oedipus, as has often been noted by Prevost's interpreters. From this standpoint, what appears most important in the novel is the figure of des Grieux and the series of conflicts in which he is pitted against his own father and several additional father-figures : B - , G - M - , the lieutenant of police, and Synnelet pere, characters whose paternal function is in almost every case underscored by the presence in the novel of a son: G- M- fils, M. de T-, and the younger Synnelet . Another unmistakable sign of the Oedipal nature of much of the conflict in Manon Lescaut is the scene in which des Grieux is introduced to G M- as Manon's brother. It i s thus by sleeping with her fictive brother that Manon plans to teach G - M- a lesson. Still another

sign is provided when des Grieux is apprehended in bed with Manon by G - M - and is thus taken away by the police for having been on the verge of doing exactly what both G - M - and his own son had proposed to do. The Oedipal principle also explains what has always been a central enigma for the critics of Mlmon Lescaut: des Grieux's passionate attach ment to his faithless mistress. Prevost's solution to the enigma im plies that realism alone cannot account for love, because love is not based on unique qualities that inhere in each specific character. It can be accounted for only by fate -that is, by a sexual conflict central to the family and society, a conflict that defines each character and over rides the significance of any purely individual character traits. In the terms of Oedipus, the conflict is one between the father and the son, but it is an unconscious conflict, which, as a result, manifests itself not as such but, rather, in a displaced fashion. Thus on the one hand des Grieux finds himself in conflict with his own father, but not because both desire the same woman. On the other hand, he finds himself in conflict with G - M - because both desire the same woman, but G - M- is not des Grieux's father, only a father figure. Manon's character can also be interpreted in terms of the conflict the unconscious conflict-between fathers and sons. She teeters on the brink of the line separating respectable society from the society of common prostitutes. Were she a common prostitute, she would not be the object of any conflict, because she would belong to all men (to the sons) indiscriminately. Were she a member of respectable society, she would not be the object of conflict, because she would belong, as it were, to the father (her father or a husband) . Manon, however, belongs to neither the son nor the father; she is neither wholly rep utable nor wholly disreputable. Des Grieux's desire for her is thus not explicitly and consciously a threat to his father, but it is implicitly a threat to his father in a way it would not be if she were a common prostitute. Des Grieux's choice of Manon is thus understandable only in Oedipal terms - it mirrors the law of the father as the (uncon scious) formative force of society. Finally, the conflict between Manon and des Grieux, on the . one hand, and their society as a whole, on the other, is also Oedipal in nature, in the sense that it is the result of their sharing, to a large extent, the values of that society, and, more specifically, of the aristo


cratic class, which dominates it. They are typically presented to the reader not as degraded or degenerate but, rather, as the true represen tatives of aristocracy. The reader is disposed to believe that the degraded condition of Manon and des Grieux in the opening pages of the novel is at odds with their true ethical/social quality thanks to Prevost's use of the general narrator of des Grieux's story, the homme de qualite. The disruption Manon and des Grieux cause when the con voy of prostitutes reaches the small village where the homme de qualite first meets them is immediately interpreted for the reader. They are not, the homme de qualite tells us, what their situation suggests common criminals. The image of Manon is especially important in conveying this, because it stresses the contrast between her beauty, which is invariably interpreted in moral/social terms as a sign of nobil ity, and her degraded condition as a prostitute. Similarly, the cause of the initial impression made by des Grieux on the homme de qualite is that, despite his extremely modest garments, one can nevertheless discern "at fust glance, a man of good breeding and education"

AUERB ACH AND MANON LESCAUT + 155 and even the hypocrisy of his actions and speech are thus explained by the figure of Oedipus. Des Grieux finds himself in conflict with his society and w ith his father-figures because he is like them. The father figures condemn him, not just because he rebels, but also because he does what they do. "Be like me/don't be like me"-this is a law des Grieux cannot fail to respect and cannot fail to transgress. To conform to the law of the father is to break it; to break it is to conform to it. The most fundamental expressions of this law are the prohib ition of incest and a corresponding sexual license in regard to those women who are not objects of the sexual desire of the father (the son) . As a result, the most serious challenge to it can take only a sexual form. On one level, it could be argued that the many elements of Manon Lescaut which can be accounted for from the standpoint of Oedipus merely provide additional evidence of the deep connection between the sexual element in Manon Lescaut and the tragic, and hence of the seriousness of the sexual - in direct contradiction to Auerbach's the sis. But on another level, the novel clearly indicates that, disruptive though des Grieux's love for Manon may be, Manon herself is the more disquietinb figure. It is she who is incarcerated at the infamous H8pital, while the authorities content themselves with subjecting des Grieux to a much less humiliating and more comfortable detention at Saint-Lazare. Toward the end of the novel, it is Manon who is sent to America, while des Grieux is set free. In the end, it is Manon who dies, while des Grieux lives to tell their (her) story. What is most disquieting in the figure of Manon is the excessive sex uality that gives the novel the erotic character Auerbach condemns. That element of her character cannot be accounted for in terms of Oedipus, because the logic of O edipus can account for her being desired but not for her desires. In terms of Oedipus, the conflict that exists between her pleasure and her love for des Grieux remains enig matic, as does the correspondingly excessive nature of her sexuality. What might be called the Antigone complex can account as well for des Grieux's love : it is the manifestation of one of the competing eth ical powers in the world of Manon Lescaut, but it can also explain Manon's intractable "attachment to pleasure." The excessive nature of her sexuality is a direct correlate of the ethical character that sexuality takes on in the social context depicted in Manon Lescaut, in spite of or really because of the dominant, paternal, that is, Oedipal values of that society. Like the other ethical p owers, (her) sexuality is an imper-

(Manon Lescaut, 35).

If they share the ethical claims and ideals of the aristocratic class (the class of the fathers), they also share in its self-serving attitudes and its hypocrisy. This is particularly true of des Grieux, whose defense of himself is so frequently simply a defense of his preroga tives as a nobleman. When G - M- catches des Grieux on the verge of sleeping with Manon in the bed of G - M -'s son, des Grieux, who is unable to counter with his epee, offers the following verbal riposte : "Be apprised that my blood is nobler and purer than yours" (149) . Similarly, in justifying himself to his father, he is careful to cite the examples of men of rank, in order to diminish his crimes (157). When, in the course of his escape from Saint-Lazare, des Grieux kills a prison guard, the father superior of the prison will hide the fact from the authoriti es. If the father superior does not report this crime, and if, moreover, des Grieux is not particularly astonished by this fact (he views it as a stroke of luck), it can only be because in his eyes, as in those of his society, it is not a serious crime for an aristocrat to kill a man of common birth . The father superior's silence makes him and the society whose values he represents accomplices in des Grieux's crime. Des Grieux is thus in conflict with his society, and/but he reveals his deep attachment to it and its values at every turn. Des Grieux's choice of Manon, the nature of his feelings for her,


ative, and it cannot be subsumed or combined with other, equally abso lute, ethical imperatives. The tragic realism of Prevost is not a creatur alism in which the sexual exists but is subordinated to the other aspects of human existence. It is one in which the sexual, in the figure of Manon, plays a central role in the conflicts that define and structure the ethical and social world and the characters that inhabit it . Auerbach reproaches Manon Lescaut because it contains "not a trace of the prob lematic. The social milieu is an established frame of reference, which is accepted as it happens to be" (Mimesis, 353). B ut in terms of the disrup tive sexuality of Manon, it is more accurate to say that the social appears, on the contrary, to be defined by irresolvable conflicts between the world of prostitution and respectable society, between the "law of the woman" and the "law of the man," between Antigone and Oedipus. Despite what Auerbach says, these conflicts give the social world of Manon Lescaut a radically problematic character. The excessive sexuality of Manon is equally disruptive of a histori cized literary realism. It disrupts the dialectic uniting the sexual - in the form of the creatural -with the tragic or the serious, and in the process, it redefines the tragic in a manner that shows its deeper link to the sexual and more specifically to the feminine. From the perspec tive of Manon Lescaut, the sexual is the source of conflict in the novel and is also what gives conflict its tragic, irresolvable nature. For Auer bach, the tragic can always be subsumed by modern tragic realism; or in other words, the divorce effected by the tragic between itself and the real can be overcome by the real itself. Provided the real is ran dom, multilayered, and complex enough, it can always unify all heterogeneity under a concept of the real. But in the light of Manon Lescaut, the dialectic of realism now appears to be interrupted, sus pended somewhere between des Grieux's dinner with Manon and Julien Sorel's dinner with Mathilde, between this eighteenth-century representative of realism and the literary realism of the nineteenth century. Equally important, Auerbach's real, however flexible and crit ical it at first seems, appears now as a systematic, dialectical real, alongside which subsists another, tragic real, one shaped by irresolv able conflict and contradiction between competing ethical powers, one whose critical power is exemplified most clearly in the figure of Manon.

The Dialectic and Its Aesthetic Other: + The Problem of Identification in Diderot and Hegel
More than a century before the emergence of psychoanalysis the French philosopher Diderot bore witness to the importance of the Oedipus complex . . . in his famous dialogue, Le Neveu de
Rameau. - Freud

Catharsis and the Dialectic

In terms of the issue of the uneasy relations between art and philoso phy, few texts are of greater interest than the section of Hegel's Phenom enology that consists of an interpretation of Diderot's Le Neveu de Rameau. In it, Hegel exposes in great detail the workings of speculative discourse in relation to a work of art that is at the same time explicitly a dialogue on art. Hegel's stance in relation to this text is remarkable when one considers his overtly critical view of neoclassical (French) aesthetics in general and even of those texts by Diderot himself relating to the project for a drame serieux, or what Hegel calls the introduction of "direct and natural expression'' into the theater.1 It is even more strik ing when one compares it to his assessments of the poets and aesthe ticians whom he at least in part admires and whose works and theories he attempts to incorporate into the dialectical movement of the Phenom enology of the Spirit or his Aesthetics. His reading of Kant, as we have seen, emphasizes as much the shortcomings of Kantian philosophy as its positive contribution to the history of reason and aesthetics. In the case of the Schlegels, Hegel's admiration for their critical talent is more than tempered by his contempt for the "miserable philosophical ingredients" of their work (Aesthetics, 63) . Very few poets (Goethe, Schiller, Shakespeare) and even fewer works of art openly receive the kind of praise implicit in Hegel's treatment of Le Neveu .


Hegel, of course, does not directly express admiration for the Neveu or its author. He does much more than admire or praise - he identifies Rameau's Nephew as the manifestation of reason in his age. This priv ilege is so striking and unusual in Hegel's work that a question nat urally arises as to its basis. Only in the case of Hegel's reading of Antigone does one fmd a similar identification of the spirit with a par ticular work of art. And yet, at least on the surface, the significance and character of his readings of Antigone and Le Neveu de Rameau appear so dissimilar that the fact the two texts enjoy a similar status seems to be a mere coincidence, without any deeper implication. Dissimilar though the two works appear to be, both in themselves and in Hegel's interpretation of them, there is, from the perspective of the Phenomenology and the Aesthetics, a profound link between them. Though Hegel's reading of Le Neveu appears in a section of the Phenomenology devoted to a stage of spirit in which it takes the form of culture and more specifically of what Hegel calls "disrupted con sciousness, " the central place of Le Neveu in the Phenomenology corre sponds not only to Hegel's philosophical interest in this stage of the history of consciousness but also implicitly to his interest in art in gen eral and tragedy in particular. What captures Hegel's attention in Le Neveu is, of course, the figure of the Nephew himself. The Nephew is significant because of the way he figures the dominant tendencies of a particular, modern stage of consciousness, but also because he personifies a process central to tragedy and to the theory of tragedy, the process Freud will designate by the term identification. Though in the Aesthetics Hegel criticizes Lessing along with Diderot for their advocacy of naturalism, Hegel's own relation to Diderot is in crucial respects similar to that of Lessing, and his reading of Le Neveu implicitly raises anew the central question of Lessing's Hamburg Dramaturgy: Is there a modern form or version of the catharsis effected, according to Aristotle's Poetics, by tragedy? In its broad lines, the framework in which Lessing considers the question of catharsis is very similar to that in which Hegel approaches the problem of art. Lessing's interest in criticism - his defense of Aristotle's Poetics and more broadly of the importance of a proper understanding of "the rules" in the cultivation of artistic genius (or, in the absence of genius, in creating an approximation of genius) - is the key element in a clearly articulated project: to transform the the ater into a place where the philosopher-critic can go to laugh, and

IDENTIFICATION IN DIDEROT AND HEGEL + 159 shed tears, but laughter and tears accompanied by and under the con trol of reason. 2 Though Lessing reiterates this project in many pas sages of the Hamburg Dramaturgy, nowhere is it expressed more clearly than in the description he gives of the friendship between Euripides and Socrates : Socrates was the master and friend of Euripides and hence how many might imagine that the poet owed to this friendship with the philosopher all the wealth of splendid maxims that he has scattered so profusely throughout his plays! I think that he owed far more to him; he might have been just as rich in maxims with out him, but he would scarcely have been as tragic. . . . To know man and ourselves; to be observant of our emotions; to search for and to love the smoothest and shortest paths of nature; to judge each matter according to its intention; this was what Euripides learned from Socrates and what made him the frrst in his art. (154) Despite rejecting the neoclassical interpretation of Aristotle, Lessing attaches supreme importance to Aristotle's Poetics because of his sense of the need that art has of a philosophical friend and master.3 The same can be said of Lessing's interpretation of Aristotle's text. Catharsis is the central theme of his reading of the Poetics for exactly the same reason that philosophy is for Lessing the best friend of art. The core of the cathartic process as it is presented in the Hamburg Dramaturgy is the act of putting oneself in the place of the other, or what we have been calling identification. In his discussion of the meaning of the Aristotelian term fear, Lessing asserts it should not be confused with terror, because, he argues, without fear, pity (or com passion) does not induce the spectator to put himself in the place of the character. Terror is an emotion that relates only to something or someone perceived as external to ourselves, whereas fear is one that works with pity to create an immediate link between spectator and character: "It is the fear that arises for ourselves from the similarity of our position with that of the sufferer" (179). From Lessing's perspec tive, catharsis/identification is the central element in tragedy and in poetics, because it serves as the incontrovertible piece of evidence that the hero of tragedy is another version of ourselves and that as a result we can, through tragedy, "know man and ourselves." Unlike the Hamburg Dramaturgy, Hegel's Aesthetics contains few allu sions to Aristotle's Poetics, and much separates Hegel from a perspec-


tive o n art that places emotion o r the affective state o f the .spectator at its center- as Hegel clearly feels Aristotle in important respects does.4 Nonetheless, in his one detailed reference to the Poetics, Hegel spells out what is at stake in the concept of catharsis in terms very similar to those of Lessing: Aristotle, as every one knows, laid it down that the true effect of tragedy should be to arouse pity and fear and accomplish the catharsis of these emotions. By "emotions" Aristotle did not mean mere feeling, my subjective sense of something corre sponding with me or not, the agreeable or disagreeable, the attractive or the repulsive. . . . In the case of Aristotle's dictum we must therefore fix our eyes not on the mere feelings of pity and fear but on the nature of the subject-matter which by its artistic appearance is to purify these feelings. A man can be frightened in face of, on the one hand, something finite and external to him, or, on the other hand, the power of the Abso lute. What a man has really to fear is not an external power and oppression by it, but the might of the ethical order which is one determinant of his own free reason and is at the same time that eternal and inviolable something which he summons up against himself if once he turns against it. (Aesthetics, 1197-98) Hegel indicates in this passage that the tragic emotions are not the "mere" emotions aroused by something external to the spectator. They are what might be called emotions of reason, inasmuch as through them the spectator is confronted by an ethical order that is indistin guishable from his own free reason. These emotions thus have the power to identify the spectator with tragedy- that is, they oblige the spectator to see himself in the drama or, what is the same thing, to see the ethical order of tragedy in himself. Because of the special character Hegel attributes to the fear and pity associated with tragedy, he is able in this passage to rescue catharsis from the realm of mere feeling, which he calls "the indefinite dull region of the spirit [where] what is felt remains enveloped in the form of the most abstract individual sub jectivity" (32) . The process of identification effected through the tragic emotions can thus now be interpreted in the terms of reason and phi losophy as a process of self-knowledge rather than as one occurring in or involving a region lying outside of reason. For both Lessing and Hegel, then, catharsis is a process that con verts tragedy into self-knowledge and confirms that philosophy is the

IDENTIFICATION IN DIDEROT AND HEGEL + :161 friend and master of art . In the confrontation between the self as spec tator and the self as spectacle, tragedy in particular and art in general reveal their essence and meaning and take on their (philosophical) significance. It is all-important that tragedy should reveal itself to be a form of self-knowledge, for such knowledge is not just one form of knowledge among others: for speculative philosophy, it is knowledge itself. In this sense, the possibility of attributing a philosophical sig nificance to tragedy hinges on the concept of identification and on the nature of the relationship between the spectator and tragic action. One could say that just as, from a dramatic standpoint, identification permits the spectator to see himself in the hero of tragedy, so, from a theoretical standpoint, the concept of identification permits philoso phy itself to identify with tragic art. Philosophy can find itself in trag edy and in art in general insofar as their nature is defined by and revealed in the process and concept of identification. For Lessing, Diderot stands out as the modern dramatist and critic whose work (along with that of Shakespeare) best exemplifies the spirit of Aristotle's Poetics, and his project for a genre serieux, in partic ular, represents the truest and most forceful contemporary interpreta tion of catharsis. Diderot therefore occupies a position virtually as eminent as that of Shakespeare in the Hamburg Dramaturgy, not so much because of the quality Lessing attributes to his plays but, rather, because of the way the concept of catharsis/identification informs his dramatic practice and makes him at once a Euripides and a Socrates. Similarly, for Hegel, Diderot's Le Neveu de Rameau implic itly appears as the most powerful modern expression of identifica tion, understood as a process linking not only the characters in the work of art with one another or with the spectator, but also art with philosophy. A theory of tragedy and art as (self-)knowledge subtends Hegel's reading of Le Neveu and gives it its significance, not only in relation to a particular stage of consciousness, but also in relation to Hegelian philosophy as a whole.

Hegel, Rameau's Nephew, and the Dialectic of Art The attacks hitherto made against the French forms of art, first by De la Motte, and afterwards by Diderot and Mercier, have been like voices in the wilderness. It could not be otherwise, as



the principles on which these writers proceeded were in reality destructive, not merely of the conventional forms, but of all poeti cal forms whatever.
-A. W. Schlegel As in the case of his reading of Antigone, Hegel's lack of reserve in rela tion to Le Neveu suggests that he views his reading of it as another par ticularly strong point in the "history of reason." Clearly, however, it also has the potentially opposite significance : Hegelian philosophy is as vulnerable in relation to Diderot's text as in relation to Sophocles' play. Once Hegel has accepted Le Neveu as an exemplary illustration of the progress of reason, any disagreement concerning his interpre tation of Diderot's dialogue goes to the very heart of speculative phi losophy itself. Roger Laufer's thesis that Diderot's great merit in Le Neveu is to have anticipated perfectly Hegel's Phenomenology can be turned, if not upside down, then inside out: in this dialogue, the entire Phenomenology (and the Aesthetics) is, as it were, staged before the fact, that is, put into a form in which the scene and the hors-scene become distinct and, as a result, the limits and presuppositions that permit the philosophical stage to exist are made apparent. 5 Like any reader, Hegel is confronted with certain choices in his interpretation of Diderot's text . The choices he makes reveal fundamental ethical theoretical decisions at the basis of his philosophical system, that is, the assumptions that allow him to distinguish between the aesthetic and the philosophical and to privilege the latter as a higher stage of the former. If one is to read Hegel's interpretation of Le Neveu critically, how ever, the first thing that should be emphasized is how persuasive and powerful it is -so persuasive and powerful that it has prefigured the great majority of subsequent readings of Diderot's text, at least in their major lines. The key to Hegel's reading of Le Neveu is in a sense quite simple. It lies in the idea that the Neph ew, Lui, is the hero of the dialogue, not Moi. Much - if not all - of the. force of Hegel's reading stems from the alacrity with which the philosopher of reason em braces this virtually Dionysian figure as the embodiment of reason in his age. The few readers who offer a counterreading of the dialogue have stressed that the Nephew constitutes an essentially negative, albeit at times seductive portrait of the cultural parasite. They have reminded us that Rameau the Nephew was part of a group of anti-

philosophes, which included Palissot, another "parasite" and man of

letters who had authored a play that in Diderot's view libeled the Encyclopedists and himself in a particularly scandalous way. 6 But such a response to Hegel's interpretation fails to address itself to its real strength, which lies in the link Hegel establishes between the exorbitant figure of the Nephew and the speculative itself. The link between the Nephew and the speculative is provided by the process or logic of identification, and the privilege Hegel attaches to the perspective of Lui in his reading of Diderot's Le Neveu derives from the speculative or dialectical function of this process. Hegel's reading of Le Neveu repeatedly underscores the ability of the nephew to occupy all positions in his society, and the corresponding inability of Moi to say anything to the Nephew "that [he] does not already know and say, "7 despite their antithetical nature in moral terms. Moi, the honest consciousness, is already in Lui, and the objections Moi makes to Lui are objections he makes to himself. The character of his relationship to Moi and to his society as a whole is what makes the Nephew a figure of the dialectic. The Nephew has such an important place in Hegel's interpretation not only of Diderot's dialogue but of the entire eighteenth century because, thanks to what Hegel sees as an unlimited capacity for identification, he becomes the dialectic itself, that is to say, he becomes the embodiment of that discourse within which all other critical positions and discourses are situated. For Hegel, Rameau's Nephew is the example of a stage of the phe nomenology of the Spirit in which it takes the form of culture and, more specifically, of a consciousness disrupted by an awareness of the general contamination of all opposites - good and bad, nobility and servility- in and by culture: It [the Spirit] is this absolute and universal alienation of the actual world and of thought; it is pure culture. What is learnt in this world is that neither the actuality of power and wealth, nor their specific notions, "good" and "bad, " or the consciousness of "good" and "bad" (the noble and ignoble consciousness) pos sesses the truth; on the contrary, all these moments become inverted, one changing into the other, and each is the opposite of itself. (316) The Spirit must pass through this stage of the disruption of its con sciousness of itself, of the inversion of opposites, in order to emerge


unified and at one with itself, having placed all distinctions on the firm ground of reason . Culture is the stage of the negation and alien ation of reason that the Spirit has to negate and assume into itself in order to be fully rational, fully itself. It is important to stress that in Hegel's view the Nephew dominates the Moi, the "honest consciousness, " not because the bad dominates the good or servility dominates nobility but, rather, because the Nephew incarnates the consciousness of the contamination of these opposites by each other, their universal perversion: The [Nephew's] disrupted consciousness . . . is consciousness of the perversion, and, moreover, of the absolute perversion. What prevails in it is the notion, which brings together in a unity the thoughts which, in the honest individual, lie far apart . . . . The content of what Spirit says about itself is thus the perversion of every notion and reality, the universal deception of itself and others; and the shamelessness which gives utterance to this deception is just for that reason the greatest truth. (317) The basis of the implicit privilege of the Nephew in relation to other figures of consciousness presented in the Phenomenology can be artic ulated in the terms of this passage. Other antagonists - that is, other forms of consciousness - are condemned to fail to identify with the other against which they stand opposed, and, as a result, it is only for us that the reconciliation of the opposing terms, their synthesis and sublation, is actual. But the Nephew is both an antagonist in a strug gle with a noble consciousness and the consciousness of the funda mental identity underlying that struggle and opposition. For Hegel, then, there is nothing in this stage of the Phenomenology that cannot be accounted for from the perspective of the Nephew. The Moi is pow erless in relation to Lui because, once again, Lui occupies not only his own perspective but that of Moi as well. The ability to occupy all positions also implies a radical estrange ment from all positions, including one's own . The Nephew is charac terized by a radical alienation of the type Diderot argues, in the Paradoxe sur le comedien, is typical of the great actor, who is a master of identification. For Hegel, such radical alienation is the source of a power to transcend the social scene, which this disruptive conscious ness constantly observes from a distance, even as he plays a role in it. In Hegel's text, the Nephew transcends his society precisely because he is


at one with it. Hegel indicates the merging of the Nephew and his soci
ety when he equates the Nephew's consciousness with (witty) conver sation or talk, which he treats as the expression of the totality of the society of the ancien regime. Having established this equivalence, Hegel writes: "In such talk, this particular self . . . is the self-disrup tive nature of all relationships and the conscious disruption of them; but only as self-consciousness in revolt is it aware of its own dis rupted state, and in thus knowing it has immediately risen above it" (321). This description of the Nephew as a witty conversationalist makes it particularly clear that he - and hence identification- are im plicitly figures for the dialectic itself. For, like the Nephew, the dialec tic also transcends each stage in the phenomenology of the Spirit by becoming one with it. It is in their common ability to occupy all posi tions and hence no single position that the self-disrupted conscious ness of the Nephew, like the dialectic itself, immediately transcends each and every particular position and becomes absolute (317) . In his article on Hegel's interpretation of Diderot, H. R. Jauss notes that it is a montage of a very select group of quotations from Diderot's text, and he argues that this montage "betrays the point which Hegel's questions want to get at."8 Thus, Jauss states, Hegel refers to the passage in which the Nephew "heaped upon each other and mixed up thirty arias." But, whereas in Diderot's text this passage describes the musical pantomime of the Nephew, Hegel makes it describe his moral character: the uncommon frankness with which he lumps together the high and the low, the good and the bad. In another instance, Jauss argues, the reverse is true. Hegel takes a quo tation whose subject in Diderot's text is the moral depravity of the Nephew and makes it apply to the Nephew as a musician. In both in stances, "Hegel completely ignores the rules concerning quotation' ' (173). According to Jauss, these transgressions of the rules of quota tion are necessitated by Hegel's desire to depict the Nephew as uncommonly frank and, ultimately, as fundamentally lucid in the way he mixes up what Moi struggles to keep separate. At first glance, Jauss's reading appears so literal as to be hard to credit. He never seems to entertain the idea that Hegel takes the pas sages describing the Nephew's musical pantomime to be figures or metaphors of his immorality and his correspondingly cynical lucidity. But, despite its literalness, Jauss's commentary raises a crucial point. For Hegel does indeed read Le Neveu as though what is said in it

166 + TH E D IALECTIC A N D ITS AESTHETIC OTHER about art can be immediately translated into moral terms; as though what is said about morality can be immediately translated into aes thetic terms, and as though what is said about both art and music is immediately mirrored in the consciousness of the Nephew. The prob lem is not so much, as Jauss would have it, that Hegel ignores the pro tocols of quotation (whatever they might be); he seems rather to assume that different protocols are not required to treat the different domains referred to by the various quotations. He does, then, what Moi argues that the Nephew himself does: he ignores or denies the incommensurability of the moral, aesthetic, and cognitive orders : "I began to tolerate only with pain the presence of a man who discussed a horrible action, an execrable atrocity, as a connoisseur of painting or poetry examines the beauties of a work of taste, or a moralist or histo rian underlines and illuminates the circumstances of a heroic action."9 At the deepest level, however, it would be more accurate to say that Hegel, rather than ignoring these distinctions, is totally preoccupied with justifying his lack of regard for them. In this sense too, Hegel's interest in the Nephew is consistent with his interest in tragedy in particular, for, as we have seen, Hegel treats Antigone as at once the immediate expression of the ethical commu nity and a work ofart. Sophocles' tragedy, in other words, authorizes a similar amalgamation of the ethical, the aesthetic, and, ultimately, the philosophical. Hegel's reading of Le Neveu thus relates once again to his interpretation of tragedy. Moreover, like his interpretation of tragedy in the Phenomenology, it also sets the stage for his treatment of art as a whole in his Aesthetics. It leads directly to the argument he makes there: that the rules that apply to speculative discourse also apply to art and morality. Because it reveals the power of identifica tion to overcome all relationships of alterity or opposition, Hegel's reading of Le Neveu amounts to a dress rehearsal for the sublation of morality by art and of art by philosophy in the Aesthetics. The mediating power of art, as we have also seen both in Hegel's cri tique of Kant and in his interpretation of Antigone, is what makes art "higher" than morality, that is, what brings it closer than morality to philosophy. Hegel's criticism of (Kantian) morality-his argument that the great stumbling block of morality is its lack of what he calls actu ality, by which he means the impossibility of moral law ever corre sponding to concrete, practical behavior- is also clearly indicated in his reading of Le Neveu. Hegel portrays Lui as lucid in his sense of the

IDENTIFICATION IN DIDEROT AND HEGEL + 167 actual contamination of all opposites, including the good and bad, whereas he portrays Moi as struggling, unsuccessfully, to keep these opposites from collapsing one into the other, to maintain the distinc tion between what ought to be and what is. Hegel's critique of morality in fact echoes that of Rameau's Nephew, who also criticizes moral law for its lack of actuality in his debate with Moi over morality and more specifically over the moral value of literary examples. The Nephew has read all the works that purportedly give moral instruction to the reader, but, he argues, their content never conforms to the moral law that they are supposed to illustrate. It could just as well -for the Nephew it does - illustrate his own, perverse principles : I have read and ceaselessly read and reread Theophraste, La Bruyere, and Moliere. . . . I glean from them what one should do and what one should not say. Thus, when I read I.:Avare, I say to myself: be a miser, if you wish; but avoid speaking like a miser. When I read T artuffe, I say to myself: be a hypocrite, if you wish, but don't talk like the hypocrite. Keep the vices which are useful to you; but dispense with the tone and appearances which would make you appear ridiculous. (115) Just as Hegel will repeatedly argue that the concrete actions of the subject never correspond to abstract moral law, so the Nephew indi cates that there is always a disjunction between stories and their sup posed moral lessons. When one compares the relevant passages from the Aesthetics and the Phenomenology to this p assage from Diderot's Le Neveu, it is clear that, from Hegel's point of view, the Nephew's amor ality or immorality could very easily be interpreted as emblematic of the dialectic and of art, of the dialectic as art-of its freedom with respect to any merely abstract moral aim, and of the corresponding ability of spirit to identify with or comprehend within itself both the good and the bad, both the ideal and the real . There is another affinity between art and Rameau's Nephew that, from Hegel's standpoint, follows from their shared ability to mediate opposition: both are also reflections of consciousness and hence rep resent forms of knowledge. Hegel argues that man needs art because he is, above all, a thinking being endowed with consciousness. But consciousness, unlike animal intelligence, requires that man "dupli cate himself" (Aesthetics, 31), become double, himself and an exterior-


ization of himself. For example, man rises above his animal nature by recognizing and exteriorizing himself as an animal and, in the process, comes to know himself as human . Similarly, in Hegel's analysis of Le Neveu, the Nephew's privilege stems from his being double, both a par asite and the consciousness of the perverse relationship of reciprocity between the parasite and the honest consciousness. His identification, like his perversion, is thus without limitation of any kind . It embraces itself in the same way as it includes everything and everyone else, and in this sense his consciousness is a consciousness of his society as a whole. And just as man's consciousness of his animal nature is a sign that he has transcended the animal, so this identification between the Nephew and his society is the sign that he has, in consciousness, already transcended it and has come to know it and himself. It is thus clear why for Hegel the Nephew's characteristics as a musician can immediately be translated into the terms of his moral cynicism and why, more generally, Hegel does not recognize the necessity for different rules when dealing with the aesthetic, the moral, and the cognitive. In fact, the only distinctions between the moral, aesthetic, and cognitive spheres allowed by Hegel are those determining their relative privileges and subordination. The aesthetic is the Aufhebung of the moral because it effects an identification between terms that, from the perspective of (an abstract) morality, can be thought only in terms of opposition. The cognitive is in turn the sublation of the aesthetic, because identification converts art into a source of self-knowledge, and in the process it transcends art itself. The essential themes of the Aesthetics-the triumph of art over moral ity and the essentially conceptual and hence philosophical nature of art- are already implicit in Hegel's reading of Le Neveu. Le Neveu de Rameau is a crucial text for Hegel not only because it can be termed a philosophical work of art but also because the figure of the Nephew stands for the overcoming of art itself by philosophy, an overcoming effected in and through identification and hence within art itself.

IDENTIFICATION IN DIDE ROT AND HEGEL + 169 When one considers the way Hegel's reading of Le Neveu and his phi losophy reinforce each other, the difficulty of challenging his interpre tation becomes clearer. This is especially so if one takes the view, expressed by many of his modern critics, that his philosophy is ine luctable even for those who reject it. Even the writer who successfully "refutes" Hegel on a specific point seems condemned to be over whelmed by the coherence and force of the logic uniting his interpre tation of Le Neveu with speculative philosophy as a whole. Nevertheless, a central point in Hegel's interpretation is clearly open to question : his assumption that the point of view of the Nephew is the most comprehensive in Diderot's dialogue, that, like the dialectic, it encompasses all the others. The question of whether or not the Nephew is the hero of the dialogue has long constituted the focus of literary-historical debates concerning Le Neveu . Those who have come after Hegel have most frequently translated his reading into biograph ical terms. According to one such reading, Diderot, despite his actual dislike for Rameau's Nephew, was unconsciously fascinated by his force and talent and thus unwittingly gave the musician the central role in the dialogue. Roland Desne, a rare dissenter to the view that the Nephew is the work's central figure, has sought to refute it on compet ing literary-historical grounds (Desne, Introduction) . But beyond the question of Diderot's intentions (assuming this question has validity), beyond even the question of the correctness of Hegel's interpretation with respect to this or that detail in the text, is the question of the link between Diderot's text and Hegel's system. If there are indeed points on which the critic may disagree with Hegel's interpretation, the critical task does not end when those points are simply identified. If there is to be a genuine discussion with and cri tique of Hegel, then the philosophical implications of those points of disagreement need to be elaborated. The question is, then, . Does the perspective of the Nephew really command all others in Le Neveu de Rameau? That is, is his identification with the other total and his cor responding ability to transcend his society absolute? Equally impor tant, what are the philosophical and critical implications if they are not? We have seen how the Nephew's critique of morality, like Hegel's Phenomenolgy and his Aesthetics, attacks both its abstract character and the resulting contradictions between it and actual practice. From the Nephew's perspective, these contradictions disqualify morality and

Diderot's Le Neveu and the Limits of Identification You were here before coming in, and you will still be here when you go out.
- Diderot

170 + TH E DIALECTIC AND ITS AE STHETIC OTHE R justify his own view of society, a view that substitutes aesthetic for moral criteria . Like Hegel, the Nephew in effect "completely ignores the rules of quotation''; he fails to respect the boundaries between the ethical, aesthetic, and cognitive spheres. When carried to the extreme, the Nephew's lack of regard for these boundaries fills Moi and the reader with horror- as when he tells the story of the renegade of Avi gnon and his atrocious (but, for the Nephew, "aesthetically" admir able) betrayal of a Jew who had generously befriended him. However, when the Nephew's essentially aesthetic outlook is extended to his relationships with other parasites like himself, the effects are comic. But who really laughs last in such instances? According to the Nephew's aesthetic conception of life, not evil but rather ridicule is to be avoided at all costs.10 The Nephew seeks to make others appear ridiculous in order to make manifest his own superiority to ridicule: I have no other merit here than to have done systematically and out of a spirit of rigor, out of a reasonable and true view of things what most others do by instinct . That is why their reading does not make them better than I am; but they remain ridiculous, despite themselves. Whereas I am ridiculous only when I want to be, and on those occasions I leave them far behind me; because the same art that teaches me to avoid ridicule on certain occasions teaches me also on other occasions to be ridiculous in a superior manner. (Le Neveu, 115-16) In ''being ridiculous in a superior manner, " the Nephew once again reveals his affinity with the figure of the great actor as described in Diderot's Paradoxe sur le comedien. Like the actor, who supposedly can represent passion precisely because he is, at least as an actor, totally without passion, the Nephew claims to be a master at being ridicu lous precisely because he is himself above ridicule. Equally important, in "being ridiculous in a superior manner, " the Nephew adopts the strategy or ruse that Hegel will adopt for the dia lectic. Like the Spirit, the Nephew affirms himself and his absolute mastery through an identification with the other to which he is appar ently opposed-the other being in this case the abject role he plays in society. According to the speculative logic of identification, the more completely one identifies (or appears to identify) with the other, the greater the resulting lucidity and transcendence of the other. Simi-

IDE NTIFICATION I N DIDEROT AND HEGEL + 171 larly, according to the Nephew, by choosing how and when he will appear ridiculous, he can ultimately avoid ridicule. To be ridiculous is the greatest sin in the Nephew's eyes; to elevate himself above the contempt of Moi and society as a whole is his highest "moral" aim. But though Rameau's Nephew incarnates the dialectic most clearly at those moments when he both appears ridiculous and thereby affirms his invulnerability to ridicule, he also, paradoxically, becomes subject to the critique that Hegel the dialectician makes of Kant the moral philosopher. The Nephew's lucid critique of morality does not prevent him from committing sins of his own, that is, frcm being caught in a contradiction between his aesthetic law, 'Avoid ridicule, " and actuality or practice. He is happy to appear undignified or ridic ulous, but only when he chooses to appear so. The distinction, how ever, between those instances when he chooses to be ridiculous and those when he is simply and unintentionally ridiculous is not and cannot be actual: it resides only in the intentions of the Nephew. To the Nephew's boast, "I am ridiculous only when I want to be/' Moi wryly retorts, "You did well to reveal these mysteries to me; other wise I would have believed you to be in contradiction with yourself" (n6). In this instance, at least, Moi has said something to the Nephew that he "does not already know and say:' Moi's irony is completely lost on the Nephew, who quite simply is in contradiction with himself. The Nephew's situation is thus identical to that of the moral sub ject, who cannot actually or effectively distinguish between instances where he intentionally commits good (or bad) actions and those where he inadvertently commits good (or bad) actions. Like morality, the Nephew's aesthetic principles reside ultimately in intentions and consciousness alone. These are the very grounds on which Hegel crit icizes Kant: "For morality is only consciousness, a negative essence, for whose pure duty sensuousness has only a negative significance, is only not in conformity with duty. But in that harmony, morality qua consciousness, i.e., its actuality, vanishes. . . . The consummation, therefore, cannot be attained, but is to be thought of merely as an abso lute task, i.e. one which simply remains a task" (Phenomenology, 368) . The avoidance of ridicule is an infinite task for the Nephew, and the point at which he will be beyond the reach of ridicule is infinitely deferred. Even in the moments when the Nephew is supreme as an artist, he does not escape from ridicule:

172 + THE D IALECTIC AND ITS AESTH ETIC OTH ER And then he began to pace, murmuring in his throat some of the airs from the Island of Fools . . . . He started becoming passionate and singing to himself. . . . He heaped one upon the other and confused thirty arias. . . . Everything was there, the delicacy of song and the force of expression; and suffering. . . . Did I feel admiration? Yes, I admired! Did I feel pity? I was touched by pity; but a shade of ridiculousness was fused into these senti ments, and it denatured them. (Le Neveu, 149) In Diderot's Neveu , as in the philosophy of Hegel, morality is con stantly undermined by its own contradictions and lack of actuality. But this does not mean that Rameau's Nephew successfully sublates morality and raises it to a higher level. In Hegel's reading, Moi is blind to contradictions that structure his morality and his corresponding perceptions of the world, but the Nephew has his own "morality" and thus, according to Hegel's own logic, his own blind spots. His aes thetics of power and mastery is also a "morality" in which weakness or ridiculousness are sins, and the contradictions in his position with respect to this other morality are no clearer to the Nephew than those in his position are clear to Moi. When read this way, Diderot's dialogue does not lend support to the conclusion that the consciousness of the Nephew is a "confusion which is clear to itself." Though the Nephew has clearly expressed for himself his own vileness, he has not clearly expressed for himself the contradictions in his aesthetic morality. The aestheticism that per verts him morally thus limits him artistically and intellectually as well. The failure of the Nephew to recognize the contradiction in his own position is not just the sign that this particular character or figure is a defective example of the power of identification. It is the sign of a defect in identification itself, a limitation of identification - and of the dialectic -that affects them from within. It seems, then, that the Nephew is not the central figure that Hegel makes him in the sense that there is a supplementary irony in his situation that reveals a lim itation inherent in (his capacity for) identification. As figured by the Nephew, absolute consciousness proves not to be absolute, because only when law and practice coincide has this status been achieved. The Nephew has failed to attain what Jean-Fran<;ois Lyotard has called the primary aim of the dialectic: "to express oneself for one self."11 Like morality, the Nephew/the dialectic is plagued by a lack of actuality.

IDENTIFICATI ON IN DIDEROT AND HEGEL + 173 Ostensibly, nothing could be more damaging to the claims specula tive discourse makes on its own behalf than such a revelation. And yet, as Lyotard has argued, even it fails to invalidate the paradoxical logic of the dialectic. To express oneself for oneself is the end that guides the rebounding of the self in the dialecti cal phrase. This end is "the reconciliation of reason conscious of itself with reason, that is, with actuality." . . . This aim is unceas ingly attained, and thus is never attained. If it is attained, it isn't. When it is not attained, it is attained nonetheless . . . . You don't get out of the speculative. (144) The logic of the contamination of opposites - the logic of identifica tion- is so powerful that failures can always be turned into successes once they have been expressed by Spirit for itself, or in other terms, once the Spirit has identified itself with them. The opposition be tween actuality and nonactuality, like any other opposition, turns out in part to be false; there is always actuality where we thought there was a lack of it. As Lyotard says, "you don't get out of the specula tive, " nor can the process of identification ever be said to fail. And yet, though its terms remain Hegelian, this description of the dialec tic and of identification is certainly never explicit in Hegel's work. We may not have gotten out of the "system of identification"; but once it has been described in such terms, it is no longer the same. The lack of actuality of identification or, rather, the peculiar form taken by its actuality, the fact that it is to be found in its purest form as something implicit in inactuality, has repercussions at every level of Hegel's highly coherent system. Because of this lack of actuality, the end of the system is compromised, but so are all its intermediate stages, insofar as their ultimate existence is fully realized only in the end. Hegel, as is well known, inverts the ordinary language mean ings of the terms abstract and concrete, so that the abstract corresponds to the phenomenal or the empirical and the concrete to the philosoph ical or conceptual because for him reality lies in the concept or, at any rate, in the mediation of experience by the concept. But if the end of the system, the ultimate form of identification that exists fully itself and for itself, is compromised, then the question of the concrete ness and actuality of the entire system of identification is also left open, unresolved. For Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Hegel's claims concerning the con-

174 + TH E DIALE CTIC AND ITS AE STHETIC OTH E R creteness of his philosophy - a concreteness that is at the basis of the privilege he gives to the Nephew as the figure of absolute iden tification - are directly linked to his lack of openness both to the phi losophy of Kant and, at the same time, to the question of art. In Lacoue-Labarthe's words, Hegel's philosophy is opposed to Kant's as "a philosophy of the as such (of the als soche)" is opposed to a philosophy of the as if (of the als ob) . . . . Philosophy of the als ob, with all that it implies, that is to say, with the radical conse quence that Nietzsche drew from "Kant"-but before which, at bottom, Kant himself shrank : to wit, that philosophy itself is essentially artistic (or artifactitious) and that it is worth exactly what art is worth (and so philosophy will have to pay the price of its own depreciation of art) .U If the attainment of its end by the dialectic is put into question, that is, if its claim to have attained actuality is in doubt, then the entire dialec tical system is opened to the as if rather than to the as such . By the same token, if the attainment of its end by the dialectic is put into question, then the sense of identification is also altered . It no longer permits phi losophy to find itself in art; or at any rate, the fact that philosophy can always find itself in art takes on a new, ambiguous meaning. Identifica tion becomes not just a confirmation of the philosophical character of art but also a process that situates philosophy itself within art, within a series of identifications that it can no longer claim to dominate as the preeminent, absolute form of identification. Given the close links between the Hegelian perspective on iden tification and the philosophy of art, Diderot's dialogue cannot pro vide the basis for a questioning of identification without also raising serious questions about Hegel's philosophy of art. As we have seen, the consciousness of the Nephew is the active force behind identifica tion as it is presented by Hegel, inasmuch as the process through which the Nephew is said to transcend his culture to become abso lute is one in which that culture as a whole is mirrored by (his) con sciousness. Just as Hegel sees the consciousness of the Nephew as the central element of Le Neveu, so in the Aesthetics he presents con sciousness itself as the central element of art. The centrality of con sciousness to art is what makes art a form of knowledge and also what makes it possible for there to be such a thing as a philosophy of art. The (beautiful) work of art is above all the mirror in which the

IDE NTIFICATION IN DIDEROT AND HEGEL + 175 rational subject recognizes itself, and it is thus the rational, knowing subject who commands both art and the process of identification. In contrast, Le Neveu as a whole and also the specific character of the Nephew cannot be understood without reference to a fundamen tal conflict between the rational subject and the work of art, a conflict that makes the concept of beauty appear problematic. It is difficult to know exactly what vocabulary should be used to analyze the nature of the conflict in terms of which Diderot's work presents the problem of art. Hegel provides little help in describing conflicts within the aes thetic field. Those he does describe are almost immediately resolved in a higher phase of art and ultimately, with respect to art as a whole, in philosophy. As has already been noted, for Hegel, the essence of art is not conflict but mediation. By contrast, for Kant, or at least for the version of Kant which emerges from Jean-Fran<;:ois Lyotard's inter pretation of his work, conflict plays a crucial role. Lyotard argues that a specific form of conflict which he calls le differend is central to Kant's philosophy as a whole and particularly to the section of the Critique of Judgement devoted to the sublime.13 According to Lyotard, a differend is "a case of conflict between (at least) two parties which cannot be decided equitably because of the lack of a rule of judgment applicable to the two arguments" (Le Differend, 9). Lyotard thus defines the differend as a dispute between two parties, but the notion is equally pertinent for him when one con siders aesthetic experience, even though nominally only a single party is involved . Implicitly, for Lyotard, aesthetic experience as Kant defines it is best exemplified by the sublime, and the effect of the sub lime, Lyotard argues, is to create a differend -that is, a radical division or cleavage - in the contemplating subject. Following Kant, Lyotard defines the experience of the sublime as a pleasure mixed with pain, pleasure that comes from pain. In the event of an absolutely immense object . . . which like all absolutes can only be considered outside of reason, the imagina tion and the ability to present fail to provide appropriate repre sentations. This frustration of expression kindles a pain, a kind of cleavage within the subject between what can be conceived and what can be imagined . . . . From any vantage point around this cleavage, infinity, or the absence of the Idea, is revealed in what Kant calls a negative presentation, or even a non presentation.14

176 + THE D IALECTIC AND ITS AESTHETIC OTH ER Without obscuring the important differences between the aesthe tics of Diderot and Kant, it seems clear that, in Le Neveu de Rameau, Diderot's aim is to reflect upon the capacity of art to problematize the identification of the rational subject with the work of art, and in the process to produce, or reveal, a cleavage in the subject. For Diderot, as for Kant, this capacity is evident inasmuch as there are certain cir cumstances under which aesthetic contemplation produces pain, a lack of ease, discomfort. In Diderot's text, these states, which are potentially those of the reader of the dialogue, are projected into it and exemplified by Moi, who articulates his own conflicting pain and interest for the reader. 15 The displeasure experienced by the subject reflects a fundamental conflict concerning Le Neveu as a whole. The dialogue is certainly a work of art, but the reader's or spectator's per ceptions or experience of it do not harmonize to produce a sense of its beauty. Le Neveu, like the Nephew, is at once repulsive and beauti ful: "You have sometimes seen, in a brilliant concert, Ferrari, or Chi abrun, or some other virtuoso in the same convulsions, offering the image of the same torture, and causing more or less the same pain [as the Nephew ] . For is it not a painful thing to see torment in the one who is occupied with depicting pleasure for me?" (Le Neveu, 6o). Implicit in these lines is a "paradox of the spectator, " according to which the spectator is divided by the conflicting feelings that the art of the Nephew inspires in him or her- not united with him- or her self and the work of art by the bond of a positive identification but simultaneously attracted to and repelled by it and by his or her own feelings. Thanks to its ability to produce both pleasure and displeasure, art thus has the power to create a cleavage in the subject, whether the subject in question is the actor or the spectator. Diderot's reflections on the affective states of the subject of art link up with a long and dis tinguished philosophical tradition extending back to Aristotle's Poe tics. Hegel, however, dismisses this type of investigation in a few lines in the introduction to the Aesthetics. In the first place, sentiments, he argues, are subjective, whereas art is objective and universal in its appeal. In addition, " 'what feelings should be aroused by art, fear, for example, and pity? But how can these be agreeable, how can the treatment of misfortune afford satisfaction?' Reflection on these lines dates especially from Mendelssohn's time . . . . Yet such investigation did not get far" (Aesthetics, 32) . By implication, only an irrational sub-

IDENTIFICATION I N DIDEROT AND HEGEL + 177 ject would tolerate this mixture of pleasure and displeasure. But, for Hegel, an irrational subject would not really be a subject at all. Hegel's sense of the relative unimportance of sentiment in relation to art is directly related to his view that art is an expression of con sciousness. If sentiment were more important than Hegel acknowl edges, then the grounds for a (rationalist) philosophy of art would be much more difficult to establish, and Hegel could not legitimately claim to understand art even better than the connoisseurs or men of taste. Hegel does not, of course, suppose that the artist, for example, must be a philosopher in order to produce a work of art. From his per spective, the artist quite clearly is not a philosopher and thus should not be expected to be capable of providing a rational explanation of his work, although an exceptional artist such as Schiller has managed to do just that. But even if the artist remains by and large unconscious of the sense of his work, that does not mean it is not susceptible of being fully elucidated, brought to the light of consciousness. Hegel speaks of the "ruse of reason" in connection with history, but he could as easily speak of such a ruse with respect to art. The artist may not know what he is doing, but reason makes use of him for its own ends. He may not be conscious in the moment of creation, but the consciousness realized in the work of art is still what, in implicit form, guides its creation. This is the sense in which reason or con sciousness is the true source of art, and the process of identification that links artist and work or spectator and work is essentially rational. The picture of art that emerges from Diderot's work as a whole is significantly different, inasmuch as it presents art as having two sources, which are never fully reconciled or harmonized. One of these sources Diderot calls sensibility or passion. The other he . calls reflection, the absence of sensibility. These two terms play a funda mental role in most, if not all, of Diderot's aesthetic writings, but they are especially prominent in his texts relating to the theater and spe cifically to the art of the actor. For Diderot, as for Hegel, the theater is not one genre among others, however- it is the genre that best exemplifies art as a whole. The special status Diderot attaches to the theater in relation to other poetic forms is evident in the privilege he consistently accords to the actor as contrasted to the poet. The special status of the theater as compared to music is indicated in Le Neveu itself, when Lui argues that gesture and inarticulate sound, which according to Diderot's texts on the theater are the pre-





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eminent materials of the actor, are the models for music (Le Neveu, 141) . The special status of the theater in relation to painting is indi cated in the Salons, where through his successive judgments of the works of contemporary painters, but above all those of Greuze, Dide rot reveals that the ideal painting is one that freezes an essentially dra matic situation, catching it when it has evolved to its climatic moment, the moment that can be rendered only by the gestures and the most expressive and energetic accents of the actor.16 In Diderot's work as a whole, the theater is thus the model for the other arts, and what those texts say about the relationship between passion and reflection applies not only to the theater but to art as a whole. Significantly, identification -that is, in Diderot's terms, the ability to put oneself in the place of another and take on his or her language and, even more importantly, his or her gestures and expression- is the essence of the art of the actor according to Diderot, and the Nephew is thus a master artist not so much because of his musical talent but perhaps even more because of his talent for pantomime. When interpreted within the context of Diderot's aesthetics, the figure of the Nephew appears to have, at least in this respect, the same significance as he does for Hegel: he represents a particularly radical or pure form of identification. But Hegel and Diderot appear to diverge on the question of the nature and significance of identifica tion - and hence of art- itself. The question is, Is identification a mat ter of reflection or passion? In those moments in which the actor reaches the height of his art, does his consciousness or do his feelings dominate? Though in certain of Diderot's texts the emphasis is on pas sion as the basis of identification (particularly in the Entretiens sur le Fils naturel), while in others {particularly the Parqdoxe sur le comedien) reflection and an absence of sensibility or passion are emphasized, neither term is ever completely abandoned- and in Le Neveu, both are very much present. The importance of the theme of reflection in Le Neveu is evident in the similarities, noted by many critics, between Rameau's Nephew and the ideal actor described in the Paradoxe sur le comedien. Like the ideal actor, the Nephew is devoid of a sense of pity and compassion for others. Also like him, he is capable of changing his expression from one of despair to one of joy, to one of boredom, all within a mat ter of seconds, ostensibly because he, like the great actor, experiences none of these emotions but only mimes their exterior signs.17 These

traits, it is argued in the Paradoxe, characterize men of reflection those who think in situations in which other, sensitive individuals feel. Is But one could, without betraying Diderot in the slightest, trans late these traits into Hegel's terms : the actor is able to take on all sorts of roles because he is nothing in himself or, rather, because he is nothing more or other than the capacity to identify himself with all other roles and positions; as actor he is nothing more or less than an absolute form of reflection or consciousness, which mirrors its situa tion and in the process immediately transc.ends it. Despite the many elements of Le Neveu that relate to the role of reflection in art, an equally important preoccupation in this text is pas sion. The Nephew himself argues that all art imitates passion: "Song is an imitation, by the sounds of a scale invented by art or inspired by nature, as you like, either by the voice or by an instrument, of the physical sounds or accents of passion; and you see that by making the appropriate changes in this definition, it would apply perfectly well to painting, eloquence, sculpture, and poetry" (Le Neveu, 141) . But though all the arts derive from passion, not all are by nature equally close to it. The entire range of art forms, which extends from declamation to song, to symphonic music, derives from what Dide rot, with Lui, calls the accents of passion, that is, the spontaneous sounds produced by men and women when they are moved by pas sion. But declamation nonetheless mirrors passion more immediately than song or symphonic music. This is evident inasmuch as we judge declamation by how it transposes accents of passion into its own rhythms and prosody, but we judge (or we ought to judge) song in relation to declamation, that is, by how well it transposes the rhythms and pro sody of declamation into its own melody and rhythms. The sym phony, in its turn, imitates and transposes song (141-142) . Declama tion is thus closer than song or symphony to the (a) source of art. There is, however, an art even closer to passion than declamation, and that is pantomime. In the Entretiens sur le Fils naturel, Dorval argues that the most natural expressions of joy or despair are gestures made with the body and also "gestures" made using the voice, inar ticulate vocal sounds and the intonation and accent with which the written lines are spoken . 19 It is because of the importance of gesture that "the worst picture would paint [actions of particular dramatic interest] better than the best discourse" (104) . It is also because of the importance of gesture that Dorval holds the actor in even greater

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esteem than the playwright, because the actor, not the writer, sup plies a given role with the gestures and accents that make it convinc ing and moving even beyond the spoken dialogue (104-5) . In his mastery of gesture, the actor reveals his absolute proximity to the (other) source of art. Rameau's nephew may not be a genius like his uncle, but insofar as he is master of pantomime, he is a more exem plary artist than even the great geniuses he detests. Similarly, Le Neveu may not be a great novel or play, but it can legitimately claim to be exemplary, that is, closer to the source of great literature, than even the great plays of Racine and Voltaire, because it includes not only dia logue but also gesture - the detailed description of the pantomime of the Nephew. It is, of course, true that pantomime and gesture, like declamation, song, and symphony, are expressions or representations of passion and therefore implicitly mediated by reflection. But the reverse is also true: symphony, song, and declamation are, like gesture, still expres sions of passion, from which the artist never fully liberates himself. Thus the Nephew's art may indeed have its source in reflection, but it is just as likely that passion is controlling him. Passion may indeed be an unconscious reason, as Hegel would have it; but it is just as likely that reason is an unconscious passion. The same logic applies to art as well. It may indeed be an uncon scious philosophy, as Hegel would have it; but it is just as likely that philosophy is an unconscious art. Of course, such assertions obey the logic of the dialectic: "You don't get out of the dialectic." But the dia lectic now no longer achieves its resolution in philosophy, and philos ophy itself has become one term in a dialectic that continues beyond or to the side of philosophy. Philosophy is confronted once again with accomplishing the end of art that it thought it had already accomplished, with accomplishing the end that is its own end. Given Diderot's views on the importance of reflection in art and in the process of identif:tcation, it is not surprising that Hegel should have been drawn to Le Neveu de Rameau. Moreover, to the extent that Le Neveu can be interpreted as a work of reflection, Hegel's decision to treat it as a vehicle of knowledge is legitimate. But the knowledge, or rather, the self-knowledge that philosophy gains when it identif:tes itself with the f:tgure of the Nephew is clearly being problematized in the work in which he appears. In this sense, Le Neveu also represents a trap set for a future Hegel, who could not fail to see the Nephew as

a particularly radical f:tgure of the rational nature of identif:tcation and of the sublation of art by philosophy, but for whom the way in which Diderot situates and relativizes the consciousness of the Nephew would of necessity remain invisible. What Hegel "doesn't want to hear anything about" in the complex f:teld of eighteenth-century aes thetics (Lacoue-Labarthe, "L1mpresentable, " 81), of which Le Neveu de Rameau is an important element, is clearly prof:tled in Diderot's text: art as a destabilizing force, art as the double of philosophy, neither different nor the same. The subject who reads and writes Le Neveu cannot be assumed to be the essentially rational subject who is posited as the reader and writer in Hegel's Aesthetics or Phenomenol ogy, where the intended result of the dialectic is always unity. It should be stressed that the destabilizing force of art as it is presented in Le Neveu derives not from its irrationality, but rather from its being not a matter simply of sentiment or reflection, beauty or ugliness, pleasure or displeasure . Thus it eludes the grasp of the philosopher who seeks to distinguish between a (rational) essence of art and the irrational or sentimental element that for Hegel remains inessential to art. Philosophy could not identify itself with art if reflec tion were merely extraneous to art in general and to Le Neveu in particular- if identif:tcation were not positive as well as negative. But from the perspective offered by Le Neveu, the signif:tcance of identif:tca tion is not only that it permits the philosopher to "take his reason to the theater:' It also situates his reason in the theater; it reveals reason to be an element of a process that it does not necessarily dominate or command . In this sense, Diderot's text undeniably testif:tes to the exis tence of a friendship between philosophy and art which is of funda mental signif:tcance to each. In the process, however, it not only opens art to philosophy but also opens philosophy to what is most alien to it, both in art and in itself.




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The Tragic Matrix of Speculative Philosophy: Generalized Mimesis and the Paradoxe sur le comedien
Gennans and French, although constantly at odds politically and socially, can no longer be presented pictorially in combat. We have adopted too many of their customs, too much of their military attire for us to be able to see a clear difference between almost identically unifonned members of the two nations.
- Goethe

There where sobriety abandons you, there is the limit of your enthusiasm.
- Holderlin

Art beyond Aestheticism: Lacoue-Labarthe and Nietzsche

Among contemporary philosophers, the work of Philippe Lacoue Labarthe .:,.. from his earliest essays on Nietzsche to his most recent work on Heidegger- stands out in terms of the central place it assigns to the problem of the relationship between art and philosophy. Lacoue-Labarthe's analysis of this relationship emphasizes the critical value of art, its power to undermine the claim of philosophy to be the summa and the truth. In this respect, Lacoue-Labarthe's essays both individually and collectively invite comparison with Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy. His concept of art recalls Nietzsche's concepts of the tragic and the Dionysian not so much because Lacoue-Labarthe's version of art is Dionysian in character but, rather, because art, and particularly literature, has for Lacoue-Labarthe the same capacity to confront phi losophy with something with which it cannot confront itself and in

this sense to place philosophy in a context in which it appears radi cally problematic. Lacoue-Labarthe's critique of philosophy also recalls Nietzsche's in another respect. Though it deals critically with philosophers from the entire philosophical tradition, the tradition as a whole is frequently condensed into a single figure - in Lacoue-Labarthe's case, not Soc rates, but Hegel -and a single form of philosophy-speculative philos ophy. The speculative is a term with two somewhat different meanings for Lacoue-Labarthe. In its narrower sense, it designates above all the philosophy of Hegel and those aspects of modern German philoso phy from Kant up to, and even to some extent including, Nietzsche which confirm or are consistent with Hegelian philosophy. 1 In its broader sense, however, the speculative stands for philosophy itself insofar as it can be assimilated to an essentially Hegelian model of phi losophy. Modern speculative philosophy makes explicit a tendency that is ultimately an essential -if not the essential -component of phi losophy as a whole. It is a tendency on the part of philosophy to spec ulate, that is, to find itself in its opposite, to find that the other, in particular art, is a mirror image of (the subject of) philosophy. The speculative, therefore, is not just philosophy but also the system of relations regulating the shifting boundary between philosophy and art and determining art itself as an element or form of the speculative. But though, in the broad lines of his analysis of the relation be tween art and philosophy, Lacoue-Labarthe appears to have followed Nietzsche in seeking to exploit a critical potential in art, in a very cru cial respect he departs from Nietzsche. His interpretation of art ap pears to exemplify a much more critical and rigorous attitude in relation to aestheticism - or what Nietzsche himself, in criticizing his early work, calls the "artists' metaphysics" in the background of The

Birth of Tragedy.
Whereas Nietzsche entertains only in an occasional digression or in an indirect manner the possibility that tragedy and philosophy might have a deeper affinity, this view of their relationship is central for Lacoue-Labarthe, who, besides indicating the critical value of art, also insists on its philosophical or metaphysical character. It is signifi cant that, while Lacoue- Labarthe explicitly attaches the greatest pos sible critical value to art, he nonetheless repeatedly portrays himself as seeking a "minimum of lucidity" in his writing concerning the problem of art and philosophy, rather than any sweeping reversal or

184 + TRAG I C MATRIX OF SPECULATIVE PH ILOSOPHY upheaval of established philosophical values. 2 This modesty corre sponds to an important component of his analysis of the relation between art and philosophy: art is not absolutely other than philos ophy, at least not in the usual sense, Lacoue-Labarthe repeatedly stresses. Lacoue-Labarthe's insistence that the era that is constituted and recapitulated by Hegelian philosophy is still ours is another sign of the emphasis he places on the metaphysical character of art. It implies that any question we ask of Hegel, any critical strategy we use to read him is already to some extent implicit in Hegel's philosophy. Even in approaching Hegel from the standpoint of a critical concept of art, we are in a sense under his power. 3 Lacoue-Labarthe thus maintains that the question of literature belongs to philosophy as a whole and Hegelian philosophy in partic ular, but only as long as certain suspicions about its mode of belong ing are put aside: When . . . we ask the question of the relationship between liter ature and philosophy, when, at least, the question is that of liter ature, when treating literature as a philosopheme, we put aside, dispel, or deflect the nagging, paradoxical, and obscure suspi cion that there is a possible literary filiation of philosophy, we doubtless do nothing more than pose in a Hegelian mode (but not in Hegelian terms) a question that Hegel himself never asked as such. (54) Literature is a question for philosophy, a "philosopheme, " but only when the question of what philosophy has in common with literature is not pursued, because it is precisely this "nagging, paradoxical, and obscure" sense of what it might have in common with literature that most threatens philosophy, according to Lacoue-Labarthe. That is, if philosophy is from the start affiliated with and contaminated by liter ature, an other that can no longer be seen as completely other, then philosophy cannot ever be the same, even as it claims to define its rela tion with literature, delimit it, and incorporate it into itself. Implicitly, then, Nietzsche was not wrong to attribute a critical potential to art in relation to philosophy. He himself became a meta physician, however, when he defined the Dionysian as the opposite of the Socratic, and in the end his critique succeeded only in produc ing another form or version (the reversal) of Socratic philosophy. What is much more destabilizing in terms of philosophy is the possi-



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bility of an art that is not the other of philosophy, even though it can not be simply assimilated into philosophy either. The ambiguity of the status of art in relation to philosophy is evident in Lacoue Labarthe's description of the work of Holderlin, one of the figures who exemplifies the critical element Lacoue-Labarthe sees in art. It is Holderlin who, "through a movement of 'regression' if one wants (I will come back to this point: there is nothing pejorative about it), comes to touch something that dislocates the speculative from within."4 Signif:tcantly, Holderlin's work, whose central preoccupa tion, according to Lacoue-Labarthe's reading, is to address the ques tion of the possibility and nature of a modern art, does not violently disrupt or overturn the speculative, nor does it originate in a space wholly alien to the speculative. Instead, it touches something within the speculative, and its effect is only to dislocate it. The essays collected in I.:Imitation des modernes should be read as a continuation of the line of questioning set forth in the critical reading Lacoue-Labarthe gives of Hegel's Aesthetics in "L'Impresentable." In these later essays, he fully elaborates the historical-conceptual struc ture that gives rise to what in "L'Impresentable" he calls "the nag ging, paradoxical, and obscure suspicion that there is a possible liter ary filiation of philosophy" (54) . As he puts it in "The Caesura of the Speculative": I would like to show-but this is hardly a thesis, given that the point, at bottom, ought to be evident-I would like to show that tragedy, or a certain interpretation of tragedy, explicitly a philo sophical interpretation, and above all one wanting to be such, is the origin or the matrix of what in the wake of Kant is conven tionally called speculative thought: that is to say, dialectical thought. ("Caesura/' translation modified, zo8) The literary filiation of philosophy is evident in the "matricial" rela tionship between the interpretation of tragedy and speculative phils ophy proper, but the ultimate implication of this thesis is not just that philosophy is rooted in its own interpretation of tragedy. Tragedy itself- that is, a discursive practice that is not explicitly philosophical and that philosophy itself has treated as other, as aesthetic, literary, or poetic - is implicitly part of this matrix in which the interpretation of tragedy also figures. This can be seen both in the way Lacoue Labarthe juxtaposes them appositively in the above passage ("trag-





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edy, or a certain interpretation of tragedy") and also in his conclusion that "the Oedipal scenario therefore implicitly contains the specula tive solution. And everything has been prepared [by it] for that abso lutization or paradoxical infmitization of the Subject [in which] philosophy will fmd its completion" (217) . Art and, more specifically, tragedy are thus the matrix of specula tive philosophy, or, in other words, speculative philosophy is rooted in its aesthetic other. As a result, philosophy itself can be dislocated, though not overturned or dispensed with, its claim to truth contextu alized in terms of its desire to provide the ultimate interpretation of tragedy. The critical power of tragedy (and more generally art) in rela tion to philosophy derives from the ambiguity of its status as matrix: both the other of philosophy and the same as philosophy. By implica tion, both aspects must be affirmed if tragedy is to retain its critical value. Much of Lacoue-Labarthe's work can be interpreted in terms of this double exigency. And yet at certain points in his work, Lacoue-Labarthe appears to pull back from this position. Although he by and large maintains the tension between art and philosophy because that tension appears to be crucial in defining the critical role he assigns to art, he resolves it nonetheless at key moments in his analysis. In those moments, art emerges as absolutely other than philosophy, and, correspondingly, the speculative is in effect subjected to a dialectical operation gov erned not by philosophy but by art. Lacoue-Labarthe's decision to subordinate the symmetry between philosophy and art to a conception of art which comprehends both itself and philosophy is evident in his essays on Diderot and Holder lin, whose work taken together and interpreted in a certain critical light constitutes a substantial part, if not the essence, of the matrix from which, according to Lacoue-Labarthe, speculative philosophy (never completely) emerges. Put succinctly, the greater radicality of art corresponds to the contrast Lacoue-Labarthe establishes between the two writers and the privilege he assigns to one: that is, the greater critical power he attributes to Holderlin in relation to the question of art. Holderlin's greater radicality, of course, is almost imperceptible and does not prevent him from sharing much with Diderot. But the dissymmetry between Holderlin and Diderot, because it is so slight, becomes immense in the terms of the logic that structures Lacoue Labarthe's analysis of the relationship between philosophy and art.

And that dissymmetry corresponds, on the one hand, to the greater affinity between the work of Holderlin and what Lacoue-Labarthe holds to be most destabilizing and disappropriating in art, and on the other, to the greater affinity of the work of Diderot with the speculative.

Diderot, Holderlin, and Generalized Mimesis

In order to understand the distinction Lacoue-Labarthe ultimately draws between Holderlin and Diderot- and between art and philos ophy - it is important to grasp what from his perspective they share : a common position with respect to the crucial issue of representation or mimesis. Their common preoccupation with representation is what makes Diderot and Holderlin the dominant figures in the tragic matrix of speculative philosophy. The basis of the special role Lacoue Labarthe assigns their work in relation to speculative philosophy emerges in his interpretation of the notes where Holderlin discusses ancient tragedy and the possibility of a modern tragedy. In Holderlin's "rhythmic" conception of tragedy, there is a moment, a caesura, in Holderlin's terms, in which, as Lacoue-Labarthe puts it, "the struc ture of tragedy itself becomes immobilized and paralyzed." It is at this moment that what appears is no longer " 'the alternation of rep resentations but representation in itself' " (234) . Representation itself, then, is for Holderlin the subject of tragedy and not this or that con tent, this or that " 'consecution of representations.' " The importance given by Lacoue-Labarthe to this passage in particular and to any number of similar passages in Holderlin's work indicates the central position mimesis holds in Lacoue-Labarthe's analysis of the relation between philosophy and tragedy. In this passage, representation, or a certain concept of representa tion central to the speculative, is the something that Holderlin touches that dislocates the speculative from within. In his essays on Holderlin and Diderot taken as a whole, Lacoue-Labarthe more fre quently uses the term mimesis, or imitation, rather than representa tion, to discuss the critical power of their work, as is suggested by the titles both of his essay on Diderot ("Diderot: Le paradoxe et la mime sis") and of the volume in which it and essays on Holderlin are col lected : [;Imitation des modernes. In Heidegger, Art and Politics, however, Lacoue-Labarthe brings forward a third term that not only is inter-

188 + TRAG IC MATRIX OF SPECULATIVE PHILOSOPHY changeable with the other two but, he indicates, may even permit the critical dimension of the problem of imitation to be explored more fully and effectively. He introduces the term identification by saying that it is one he has "borrowed from Freud, because it is ultimately the only one we possess to designate what is at stake in the mimetic process . . . . Identification or appropriation - the self-becoming of the Self-will always have been thought of as the appropriation of a model" (Heidegger, 80-81) . From Lacoue-Labarthe's perspective, the tradition that culminates in speculative philosophy has interpreted mimesis or representation as implying a reproduction that in each case is the mere copy of the original. From the standpoint of that tra dition, identification could be interpreted only in similar terms. The radicality of Lacoue-Labarthe's interpretation of the relation ship between philosophy and art lies in his taking up the familiar almost too familiar-term mimesis/identification and revealing its criti cal potential by redefining it in such a way that the relationship between original and copy appears in a problematic light . For Lacoue Labarthe, the critical potential of the concept of mimesis is already implicit in Aristotle's Poetics and, more specifically, in his conception of art as the perfection of nature. In Lacoue-Labarthe's terms, this definition of art involves a paradox . It implies that art or, more spe cifically, tragedy, is at once imitation and original. For Aristotle, nature retains its originality insofar as art is an imitation of it, but art also has an originality inasmuch as the perfected nature it reproduces is not purely natural. Lacoue-Labarthe sees this paradox as evidence that Aristotle's Poetics already implies what he calls a mimetologie, that is, a theory of the "original" or poetic nature of representation -in other words, a notion of mimesis in which the re-production or copy is (also) "original." Though the affinity between the work of Lacoue-Labarthe and that of Jacques Derrida is particularly evident in the former's discussion of mimesis, that same discussion also makes apparent an important difference between Lacoue-Labarthe's interpretation of Derrida and that of many of Derrida's other readers. From Lacoue-Labarthe's per spective, it would be false to convert immediately Derrida's notion of the "originary" character of writing or his own (Lacoue-Labarthe's) analysis of the "originary" character of mimesis into affirmations of the primacy of art or of the literary text in relation to philosophy. The original character of mimesis almost always implies quotation marks



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around the term original in his work. If this were not the case, Lacoue Labarthe's position concerning the original character of mimesis would simply be an inversion of the philosophical interpretation of mimesis, and mimesis itself would simply be another form of origin. Lacoue-Labarthe's work involves a transformation, or at the very least an analysis of the ambiguity of the concept of mimesis, rather than a demystification of it, and this is why the term itself is neither simply positive nor simply negative for Lacoue-Labarthe. 5 The ground for what Lacoue-Labarthe terms the deconstruction of the relation between philosophy and art is already being laid in the work of Aristotle. Nonetheless, while Aristotle's Poetics already im plies a mimetology, Holderlin and Diderot go much further, accord ing to Lacoue-Labarthe. Unlike the Poetics, their work implies a generalization of his mimetic theory of art, "but one which can be such only in the abandonment of the terrain upon which Aristotle had constructed his own -that is, the terrain of the 'spectacular' rela tion" ("Caesura, " 2.32). It is Holderlin and Diderot who, at least in cer tain passages of their work, explicitly elaborate the major elements of a mimetology and also suggest the radically critical implications of such a mimetology in relation to speculative philosophy. Thus implic itly the work of Holderlin and Diderot (and in certain respects that of Nietzsche and Heidegger) represents the interests of art with the greatest force, and this is true even though the mimetologies of Holderlin and Diderot are elaborated in those texts where each writes not only as dramaturgist but also or even more as theoretician (41) . Though he never says so explicitly, the underlying logic of Lacoue Labarthe's decision to focus on these theoretical texts is formally con sistent with the paradoxical logic that structures both the concept of mimesis as it is interpreted by Lacoue-Labarthe and his own texts. In appearance, Holderlin and Diderot's theoretical and critical texts are the opposite of their literary (poetic and dramatic) texts. In fact, how ever, it is in their theoretical texts that Holderlin and Diderot are per haps closest to art. Diderot and Holderlin's work touches and dislocates the specula tive in several closely related ways, but two are of particular impor tance. First, their work does not imply just a reversal but, rather, a total reformulation of the relationship between original and reproduc tion. Such a reformulation is explicit in Diderot's Paradoxe sur le comedien,6 where the character identified only as "the First" states

190 + TRAGIC M ATRIX OF SPECULATIVE PHILOSOPHY that, at least as far as the actor is concerned, identification comes first: the role played by the actor is pure creation, in the sense that it is not a reproduction or expression of his own, innate sensibility. While Lacoue-Labarthe uses the term mimesis rather than identification in "Diderot: Paradox and Mimesis, " in the light of his subsequent re marks on mimesis and identification in Heidegger, Art and Politics, it seems entirely legitimate to read his text as though its theme were already mimesis as identification. For Lacoue-Labarthe, the force of Diderot's text on acting lies in its assertion that the actor is without sensitivity, because, at least in terms of the art of the actor, this implies the primary nature of iden tification. The actor does not possess qualities which he then projects into his role; rather, in projecting himself into his role, he invents the qualities of that role out of nothing, that is, through his art alone. Identification is not a secondary process that establishes a link between the character of the actor and the character he or she is to portray but, rather, a primary process that coincides with the purely spontaneous artistic activity of the actor. Holderlin's work also transforms the significance of mimesis/identi fication, not so much in relation to art per se but, just as important, in terms of the relationship between the ancient and the modern. Modernity is a major-if not the major- theme of the essays collected in Limitation des modernes, because in Lacoue-Labarthe's terms it is one of the most important figures of mimesis. The concept of the modern implies a concept of mimesis, inasmuch as the ancient is tra ditionally conceived as the model or the original -whether positive or negative -for the modern. Because of its paradoxical nature, the essentially specular relation between the ancient and the modern con stituted a:nd in a sense still constitutes a gigantic double bind for modernity, according to Lacoue-Labarthe. It is as if the ancient were saying to the modern: '"Be like me' I 'don't be like me"' ("Caesura, " 223), and, as a consequence, as if the modern were condemned in advance to fail to equal - that is, condemned to be the mere imitation of- the ancient. More than any other philosopher or poet since Kant, Lacoue Labarthe argues, Holderlin was able to dislocate the essentially spec ular relation between the ancient and the modern.7 In the terms of the mimetology implicit in the work of Holderlin, the modern no longer appears to be the mere repetition of an original model. This is



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what Holderlin, in "his final thinking on the Greeks"- his "ultime pensee . . . sur les Crees"-grasped, in a manner that upset the vision of the Greeks shared by Schiller and Winckelmann. 8 Holderlin saw that what was "proper" to the ancient Greeks, that special qual ity as a people that made them inimitable, "never took place" ("Holder lin, " 246) . In the terms of this insight there is no longer any place for the "'imitation of Antiquity'" (247) in the traditional sense. Holderlin in effect recognized that the modern cannot take the place of the ancient precisely because the latter "never took place." But for that very same reason, the modern is no longer condemned to be the mere repetition of the ancient. A common sense of the "originality" of mimesis/identification is not all Diderot and Holderlin share. Equally important, a generalized theory of mimesis such as is indicated in the work of each- in Diderot's case by his theory of acting, in Holder lin's by his conception of the relation between the ancient and the modern - necessitates the elaboration of a logical framework that is just as radically at odds with traditional philosophical thought. This logic (Lacoue-Labarthe, bor rowing from Holderlin, calls it a "hyperbologic") is the other major element linking their work from Lacoue-Labarthe's perspective. According to him, the hyperbologic, like Holderlin's dislocation of the opposition between the ancient and the modern, is indicated in Holderlin's texts on tragedy. At first glance the hyperbologic appears to have much in common with dialectical logic, inasmuch as it is through a comlJarison of the two that one learns what each in essence is. The similarity between them is crucial because it reveals that, just as art is not merely the opposite of philosophy, so the hyperbologic is not merely the opposite of dialectical logic. The importance of this point is clear: if the hyper bologic were the opposite of dialectical logic, then the relationship between the two logics would itself be dialectical, and in this sense the hyperbologic would still be a subordinate form of logic. The dialec tic could still legitimately speculate on the hyperbologic - that is, inter pret its relationship to the hyperbologic in dialectical terms and see it as another version of dialectical logic. From Lacoue-Labarthe's perspective, the affinity between the hy perbologic and the dialectic is thus the indication of the radical nature of the difference between them. Though he never makes the point explicit, it is not difficult to discern that the relationship between the

192 + TRAGIC MATRIX OF SPEC ULATI VE PHILOSOPHY two forms of logic is not itself dialectical but rather hyperbological: that is, the hyperbologic is so radically different from the dialectic because it resembles the dialectic so closely. The hyperbologic is nothing more than a generalization of the dialectical principle of the exchange of contraries, in which the process of exchange between the opposing terms is unlimited: in which no absolute term exists to close off and provide an ultimate reconciliation to the process of opposition and exchange. "In its greatest rigor, [the hyperbologic] cannot be reduced to any (philosophical) logic of identity and opposition, in cluding dialectical logic, because it refuses to assure the Aufhebung of difference and because it unceasingly confirms what Holderlin would have called the Wechsel, the infinite exchange or alternance of oppos ing terms:'9 A hyperbologic is an integral part of a mimetology be cause only such a logic can account for a conception of mimesis or identification in which the original is the copy and vice versa, and in which the possibility of exchange between these two opposites is un limited-that is, in which neither the copy or the original can ever be determined to be original. In Lacoue-Labarthe's view, it is not incidental by any means that Diderot formulated his theory of acting as a paradox. A mimetology of necessity implies paradox, not in the weak sense of an unorthodox opinion, but in the logical sense of the identity of opposites.l0 It is thus virtually inevitable that Diderot's theory of acting, simply be cause it takes identification to be "original," should also take the log ical form of a paradox, or a hyperbologic: the more devoid the actor is of any intrinsic sensibility, the more adept he will be at rendering every form of sensibility or passion. Or, in other words, the actor (the original) is nothing and, in artistic terms, becomes something only through imitation or identification. For the actor at least, imitation/ identification is "original :'



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Diderot's Betrayal of Generalized Mimesis

The critical force of art in relation to philosophy is thus evident in the paradoxical character of the relationship between mimesis and the speculative, that is, between Holderlin and Diderot, on the one hand, and Hegel, on the other. The identity between mimesis and the spec-

ulative, between art and philosophy, is repeatedly indicated by Lacoue-Labarthe. It determines the emphasis he places on theoretical and critical texts rather than poetic or properly tragic texts in highlight ing the critical force of art. More important, it is evident in his view that mimesis, even what he calls generalized mimesis, is only a dislo cation or generalization of the speculative. But the difference between mimesis/identification and the speculative, between art and philoso phy, is also being asserted in this description of the speculative, for, in terms of either a dialectical or a hyperbologic, these slight differ ences are in fact immense and decisive. Lacoue-Labarthe's essays on Diderot and Holderlin thus exemplify the general critical strategy in terms of which he addresses the rela tion between art and philosophy. But these same essays also reveal that at moments Lacoue-Labarthe in effect chooses between the exi gencies imposed by the paradoxical relationship of philosophy and art . As a result of this choice, the paradoxical relationship progresses and appears in his work as one of op-position . In this respect, Lacoue Labarthe decides (to use a term he himself has used) the question of art and in effect assigns an essence to it, an essence that corresponds to pure identification or mimesis. This is the case not because Lacoue Labarthe is ultimately defending art against philosophy. In his terms there is a radicality of philosophy (exemplified by such figures as Nietzsche and Heidegger) that is a hyperbological consequence or complement of the radically critical value of art. It is the case, rather, because Lacoue-Labarthe, in the last instance, is defending a pure or generalized form of mimesis' or identification against an impure or speculative version of it- because in order to save the value of art he must sacrifice the speculative. As we have seen, LacoueLabarthe's interpretations of Diderot's work and of Holderlin's illuminate each other. But his comparison of them also reveals what from his perspective is a serious limitation of Diderot's text on acting. The Paradoxe sur le comedien reveals the critical power of identification, but it also betrays an attempt to control it and neutralize its disruptive force - to "seek in mimesis [itself] the remedy for mimesis" (z66). It is in this light, Lacoue-Labarthe argues, that we should interpret the First's insistence on the capacity of the great actor to repeat his role at will and always in the same directed man ner. This view of the actor reveals Diderot's intention to impose a lim-

194 + TRAGIC MATRIX OF SPECULATIVE PHILOSOPHY itation on identification, "to master it by definitively stopping the ver tigo" it induces (263), by distinguishing two forms of identification. In making this distinction, Diderot repeats a gesture that is absolutely classical. The active, virile, formative, properly artis tic or poietic mimesis (deliberate and voluntary alienation, origi nating from the gift of nature, and presupposing no preliminary subject . . . ) against passive mimesis: the role that is taken on involuntarily, dispossession (or possession) -an alienation all the more alienating in that it occurs constantly from the basis of the subject as a material support. (265) "With regard to Aristotle"-or, Lacoue-Labarthe might have added, to Hegel-l'one can see that there is still absolute fidelity" (265) . The dis tinction between the two forms of mimesis represents an attempt to think one form as the more original and is thus a repudiation of a gen eralized theory of mimesis. Confronted with the vertigo induced by a generalized mimesis, Diderot pulls back: "Diderot halts the paradox and closes, for him self, what for others (and for a long time) he opens up : fundamen tally, the enigmatic possibility of thinking the identity without identity of contraries" (263). In thus pulling back, Diderot defines his place in a history that Lacoue-Labarthe qualifies as being "not solely empiri cal, but not ideal or pure either." It is the "history of the completion of philosophy" ("Caesura," 212) , the history in which Holderlin, Nietzsche, and Heidegger are ultimately the principal figures, the others for whom Diderot opened up a possibility that in the end he closed off for himself. In the ultimate analysis, Diderot's place, though indeed within this history, is nonetheless relatively marginal or at any rate prefatory. And the principle including/excluding Dide rot from this history is that of generalized mimesis. The radical and critical nature of generalized mimesis is thus exem plified more forcefully and more purely in the "tradition that Diderot paradoxically inaugurated - in Germany" ("Diderot, " 261, translation modified), than in the work of Diderot himself. The distinction Lacoue-Labarthe makes between Diderot and the tradition he inau gurated in Germany reflects and confirms the radical and critical func tion of art itself in relation to (speculative) philosophy, which is characterized above all as an attempt to limit and control mimesis. But clearly, this same distinction also marks the point in Lacoue-



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Labarthe's argument where generalized mimesis and the sense of art that corresponds to it are being opposed to the speculative and to phi losophy. Just as Lacoue-Labarthe argues that Diderot's decision con cerning mimesis is indicated in the distinction he makes between an active and a passive mimesis, so Lacoue-Labarthe indicates his own decision concerning art in the distinction he makes between two mi metologies, one of which is general and the other of which is limited; one of which is Holderlinian and the other of which is Diderotian; and finally, one of which is German, the other of which is by implica tion French or at any rate non-German. Lacoue-Labarthe readily concedes the point that Holderlin and the group of writers and theorists to whom his work is compared by Lacoue-Labarthe are not the only figures concerned with the problem of mimesis in the form in which they dealt with it: as the imitation of the ancient by the modern. Nonetheless, in Heidegger, Art and Politics, he argues that the Germany that was the context for Holderlin's work had a special perspective on this problem: The agonistic (and consequently mimetic) rivalry with the an cient obviously does not apply to Germany alone. It is in general a foundation of modern politics . . . . What distinguishes Ger many, however, is the fact that from the Revolution onwards, or rather from its imperialistic accomplishment, which coincides with the appearance of speculative idealism, . . . Germany rejected the neoclassical-and "Latin' '- style of imitatio (which also implies the rejection of the political form ultimately taken by neoclassicism, i.e., the Republican form) and sought, not without difficulty, to find a style proper to it . . . . A mimetic agon with France was thus added to that with Greece, such that it was not merely a question of wresting from France the monop oly over ancient models (and therefore over art, culture, and civ ilization), but it became necessary also to "invent" a Greece which up to that point had not been imitated, a sort of meta Greece, if you will. (78-79, translation modified) Lacoue-Labarthe's explicit theme in this passage is German politics, but what he says here unquestionably applies to philosophy as well the whole argument of Heidegger, Art and Politics being that the two cannot be separated . Lacoue-Labarthe's own perspective o n the Germany (and the Greece) he is describing in this passage is clearly critical, and his inter-

196 + TRAGI C MATRIX OF SPECULATIVE PHILOSOPHY pretation of Holderlin is that his perspective on Germany (Greece) is analogously critical. Nonetheless, the implication of Lacoue-Labarthe's argument is that if it does not suffice to be a German idealist in order to grasp the paradoxical character of the relation between the ancients and the moderns, only someone whose work can be situated at "the limit" ("Caesura," 212) of German idealism is in a position to do so.11 This is why Diderot's concern for the ancient falls outside Lacoue Labarthe's field of investigation- though there is a great deal to be said on the subject, even and perhaps especially with respect to the Paradoxe, which is Lacoue-Labarthe's particular focus -why Holder lin, rather than Diderot, is in a better position to have grasped the rad ical implications of the mimetic dilemma posed for the modern by the ancient. The distinction Lacoue-Labarthe makes between Diderot and Hi:il derlin in terms of the problem of the modern is thus complex, because Diderot is included in and excluded from the field defined by gener alized mimesis. In this sense it recalls Hegel's (and Lessing's) subla tion of Diderot in his (their) own dialectic of identification. For Lacoue Labarthe, Diderot is almost German in much the sal.T'e sense that he is for Lessing (and Goethe and Hegel) . And for Lacoue-Labarthe too, Diderot's tacit Germanness is a function of his position with respect to identification - and thus with respect to the Greeks. Of course, Lacoue-Labarthe's Greeks (and his Germans) are different from the Greeks of Lessing, Winckelmann, Schiller, and Hegel. That is to say, the privilege of the Greeks (and ultimately of the Germans) in Lacoue Labarthe's (and, according to him in Hi:ilderlin's) eyes is to be a "non people" occupying a "non-place," or, in Lacoue-Labarthe's own terms, "a people, a culture constantly showing itself as inaccessible to itself" ("Hi:ilderlin," 247) . But for that very reason, Lacoue-Labarthe's Greeks could be argued to be the same as those of Hegel - the same because they are the opposite. That is to say, Hi:ilderlin's Greeks are the same because their impropriety is Greek (and German) rather than French (or any other national entity one might name) . Their impropriety is thus proper to Greece/ Germany; it is at bottom what, Lacoue-Labarthe holds, "distinguishes" Greece/Germany (Heidegger,



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sis. The privilege - and it is a privilege - Lacoue-Labarthe attaches to the German is indicative of an implicit attempt to break out of the double bind of the copy and the original, of the ancient and the mod ern, and of art and philosophy. It is indicative, that is, of an underly ing privilege given to art. This privilege is of course complex and problematic, inasmuch as the implication of Lacoue-Labarthe's text is that art, like Greece and ultimately like Germany, never took and never takes place, that it has no place that would belong purely to it and nothing that is proper to it. As Lacoue-Labarthe puts it, what is in question with respect to the actor as he is presented in Diderot's Paradoxe is "the absence of any proper quality in one who intends to take up (or proves suited for) representation and production'' ("Dide rot, " 257) . Still, also like Greece (Germany), the privilege of art con sists in occupying this non-place. Thus, the non-place of art is in the end being indicated as absolutely other than the place of the specula tive, despite all the precautions Lacoue-Labarthe takes to respect the exigency of the hyperbologic and avoid progressing toward a dialectic. At stake, then, in Lacoue-Labarthe's reading of Diderot is nothing other than art itself as the other of philosophy, more particularly, of speculative philosophy. It is in terms of this alternative that he can view Diderot's Paradoxe both as an opening toward and as a betrayal of the most radical possibilities of identification and art, that he can sublate the Paradoxe in his own dialectic of identification, in his theory of a generalized- and Greek/German- form of mimesis.

Reading the Paradoxe with/against Lacoue-Labarthe

As we have seen, Lacoue-Labarthe attributes greater critical value to the work of Hi:ilderlin than to that of Diderot because Hi:ilderlin is closer to a concept of art as pure poiesis, as the absence of any proper quality, and thus closer to a corresponding generalization of the mimetic. But as we have also seen, Diderot's work holds an important place in this critical scheme, even if it is not the primary or dominant one. Despite Lacoue-Labarthe's reservations about the Paradoxe sur le comedien, in certain respects its significance for him seems to be very nearly as great as the significance of Le Neveu de Rameau for Hegel in the Phenomenology. Just as Hegel sees the Nephew as a particularly radical figure of philosophical consciousness, so Lacoue-Labarthe

78) .12
The special character of Hi:ilderlin's relation to the people whose relationship to the Greeks is itself special parallels the special posi tion of Hi:ilderlin's work in relation to a generalized theory of mime-

198 + TRAGIC MATRIX OF SPECULATIVE PHILOSOPHY sees the discourse of the First, one of the two characters whose dia logue is presented in the Paradoxe, as one of a very few instances in which an explicit attempt to generalize the mimetic principle can be discerned. And while Lacoue-Labarthe's interest in an art that would have a particularly critical value in relation to philosophy leads him to both Diderot and Holderlin, it is in Diderot's essay on acting that identification/mimesis emerges as the central element of theater and of art generally speaking. In the overall organization of Limitation des modernes, Holderlin is ultimately given a more important place than Diderot, but Lacoue-Labarthe's essay on Diderot comes first nonethe less: it introduces the theme of imitation, whose analysis he pursues in the essays on Holderlin, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, and Lyo tard, which appear along with "Diderot: Paradox and Mimesis" in the original French collection. Grasping what Lacoue-Labarthe finds most significant and critical in Diderot's Paradoxe is thus crucial in order to understand fully what is most critical and forceful in Lacoue-Labarthe's own analysis of the problem of art. In identifying his own interpretation of mimesis so closely with a text (or at any rate with certain elements of a text) by Diderot, Lacoue-Labarthe gives his position force, clarity, and con creteness. But while much or all of what makes that analysis espe cially powerful is evident in his reading of Diderot, it also serves to raise questions concerning the ultimate implications of his critical reassessment of the relation between philosophy and art. Just as Hegel's philosophy is opened to challenge in terms of its reading of Le Neveu, so Lacoue-Labarthe's more critical position is opened to chal lenge in terms of his interpretation of the Paradoxe. The character of the Nephew occupies the stage in an almost exclu sive manner in Hegel's interpretation of Le Neveu de Rameau, and, in a similar manner, Lacoue-Labarthe's reading of Diderot is focused not only on one text, the Paradoxe sur le comedien but, more particularly, on one figure in that text. In Lacoue-Labarthe's case, of course, that figure is rhetorically complex, inasmuch as it is split between two tex tual functions : The author- Diderot-thus occupies two places simultaneously (that is, in the same text) . And, moreover, two incompatible places. He is the First, one of the two interlocutors. Or at least he presents himself as such. But he is also the one who, putting himself overtly in the position of author or general narrator, sets



+ 199

himself apart from the First or is able, even if only in play, to set himself apart from him and to constitute him as a character. ("Diderot," 250, translation modified) Lacoue-Labarthe's object in this passage is to underscore the complex ity of the subject who authors the Paradoxe. The Diderot who writes here is both the narrator and a character (the First), and thus in a sense he is neither. These remarks on the character of the narrator/character relationship prefigure Lacoue-Labarthe's discussion of the paradox on acting in the body of his analysis of Diderot's text. Only in that discus sion are their implications fully developed, and thus any objection to them that does not take that discussion into account is premature. Nonetheless, certain issues central to Lacoue-Labarthe's interpretation of Diderot are already being decided in these preliminary remarks because, however complex the figure of Diderot may be in Lacoue Labarthe's reading of the Paradoxe, the narrator and the First still form a single figure. That is to say, they are implicitly opposed to the Sec ond, who is thrust into the background in Lacoue-Labarthe's com ments on the subject of the Paradoxe, even though he notes in passing that the Second "has constantly, from the beginning [of the dialogue] forced the other to speak" (248, translation modified .) Lacoue-Labarthe's decision to focus on the First/the narrator corre sponds to a second decision -to define the paradox of acting in terms of the thesis of the First- that the great actor is devoid of sensitivity ("sensibilih") . Lacoue-Labarthe thus diverges from many commenta tors of the text, for whom the paradox of the Paradoxe lies in the contra diction between what is said about acting in this text and what is said about it in the Entretiens sur le Fils nature!, where the character Dorval argues that the actor, like other artists, "feels intensely, and reflects lit tle:'I3 Instead, Lacoue-Labarthe emphasizes that the thesis of the First in and of itself implies a paradox; the less the actor feels, the greater his capacity for representing feeling or passion. Lacoue-Labarthe is certainly justified in writing that the commenta tors who have defined the paradox in terms of the contradiction between the respective theses of the Entretiens and the Paradoxe have sought to resolve this contradiction in order to reconstitute an "aes thetic without paradox:' Yvon Belaval's study I.:Esthetique sans para doxe de Diderot (Paris: Gallimard, 1950) illustrates Lacoue-Labarthe's contention very well . Belaval more than once acknowledges that Dide rot appears to overtun himself when he argues, in the Entretiens, that


the actor is an enthusiast, and yet, in the Paradoxe, portrays him as totally lacking in sensitivity. Nonetheless, Belaval concludes his study with the statement that "it is clear the Paradoxe does not contradict in the least [Diderot's] aesthetic" (304), without ever effectively explain ing why the contradiction between the Paradoxe and Diderot's other texts is not real but only apparent. Belaval's claim notwithstanding, there is indeed a contradiction be tween the two works. But if Belaval never addresses it, neither does Lacoue-Labarthe. Such an omission is not in and of itself significant, in the sense that Lacoue-Labarthe's reading of the Paradoxe must be judged on its own terms, for what it does, not for what it does not do. Nonetheless, within the frame of the Paradoxe, the Second is the representative of the Entretiens, that is, of the thesis that sensitivity and feeling are the signal faculties of the actor. Lacoue-Labarthe's reading of the Paradoxe, and more specifically his privileging of the narrator/the First, is thus directly connected to his decision not to treat the contradiction between the two works. Thrusting the Second into the background permits Lacoue-Labarthe to frame the paradox essentially in the terms of the First, that is, to proceed as though the contradiction between the Entretiens and the Paradoxe were not also a contradiction within the Paradoxe, not a part of the paradox of the



+ 201

identification. The passions of the character are not reproductions of passions felt by the actor but, rather, a spontaneous creation of the actor/artist, which, because of its very spontaneity, cannot be consid ered proper to the actor or artist. Passion, however, is consistently deemphasized by Lacoue-Labarthe, inasmuch as it is implicitly asso ciated with a limited mimetic theory: that is, with a theory that sees the work of art as the imitation of a preexisting passion, as the expres sion of a pre-given subject. In this interpretation, the paradox of the Paradoxe is not resolved, but it is nonetheless truncated. By insisting so strongly on the idea that the actor is nothing in himself (that is, that he is without sensi bility or passion), Lacoue-Labarthe understates the importance of the other aspect of the paradox-that he is everything (that is, capable of representing all sorts of passions) because he is nothing: The Second: To listen to you, the great actor is everything and nothing. The First: And perhaps it's because he is nothing that he is par excellence everything. (Diderot, Paradoxe, 341, my emphasis.) The terms in which the paradox is formulated here are significant. They differ from the more prudent versions of the paradox offered elsewhere in the text: for example, in the passage where the First argues that the talent of the actor consists in "so scrupulously render ing the exterior signs of passion that you are taken in" (312) In these other formulations of the paradox, imitation is still active rather than passive, and the active nature of acting maintains a distance between the actor and his role. The actor, as author of his role, can still, at least logically, be distinguished from it, his creation. But the logic of the paradox leads inexorably beyond such a pru dent formulation of it. The sign that the great actor is nothing in him self is that he can represent passion perfectly and truly- that he can identify totally with his role. Were there certain elements of passion he could not render, were his portrayal of the passions of a given char acter limited in any way- that is, were there any possibility of distin guishing between the actor and his role -it would indicate that a natural sensibility or passion enters into and determines his art. That is why the actor who plays his role perfectly, is his character: "is par excellence everything" (341). In this fuller and less prudent version of the paradox, identification

What exactly is the paradox of the Paradoxe? Lacoue-Labarthe insists it does not lie in the idea that reflection, rather than sensitivity, is the quality distinguishing the exceptional from the mediocre actor. As we have seen, the paradox is that "one must oneself be nothing, have nothing proper, " in order to do everything, that is, in order to play all sorts of roles, characters, et cetera ("Diderot, " 258). Thus the quality distinguishing the exceptional actor is not so much reflection understood as an intellectual as opposed to an emotional capacity but, rather, reflection understood as the "absence of any proper qual ity" (257). This is why the gift accorded to the actor must be under stood as "the gift of nothing" (259) . The paradox is thus that the great actor is, in his essence as actor, nothing. Reflection, understood as the absence of any proper quality, thus becomes the dominant theme in Lacoue-Labarthe's analysis because it is in terms of the emphasis placed in the Paradoxe on reflection that this text can be argued to effect a generalization of mimesis, that is, can be interpreted as indicating the "original" nature of imitation or






GEN ERALIZED M I M E S I S AND THE PARA D OXE + 203 not impossible; but it's on the condition that he will not abandon his system of declamation and that the unity [of declamation] will not disappear, otherwise you will swear he has gone mad . . . . Yes, in that case you would have a nne moment, I agree. (376) In this hypothetical instance when the great actor forgets himself and is overcome by feeling, it would still be impossible to tell if reflection were not playing an important role, if the habits of his craft were not continuing to dominate him to some extent. But precisely for that rea son, it is impossible to determine that an actor, in an especially fine moment, is not ruled by passion. Both the First and the Second can thus with an equal appearance of justice appeal to the play to lend support to their positions and undercut the arguments of the other (370) . "What difference does it make, indeed, if they [the actors] feel or if they don't feel, as long as we don't know?" (358), the First exclaims at one point . The paradox lies in the fact that it makes no difference. That the paradox points to the interchangeability of passion and reflection explains why so many of the arguments in the Paradoxe are similar to those found in the Entretiens. Whereas Belaval takes such sim ilarity to be the sign that there is, at bottom, no paradox in Diderot's aes thetic theory, it is rather the indication that the paradox lies in the double-edged nature of the argument being made in each text rather than in a simple contradiction between them . In the Entretiens, for example, Dorval defends the thesis that the excellence of the actor con sists in his sensitivity by arguing that only such sensitivity can enable him to feel the emotions felt by his character and guide him unerringly in finding the gestures and accent appropriate to those emotions. The gestures and accents employed by the great actor are thus the natural signs of passion, and the ability to reproduce them is taken by Dorval to be an indication of the actor's proximity to passion and nature rather than the degree to which he has mastered the technique of acting and the conventions of a specific, national theater. Dorval's argument in tJ:e Entretiens is evoked with particular force in a passage from the Paradoxe in which the First argues: But the case of violent pleasures is like that of profound sufferings - both are mute. A sensitive, tender friend sees a friend long lost to absence. The latter reappears unexpectedly. At once, the heart of the fust is moved. He runs, he embraces, he wants to speak. He cannot. He stammers half words, he doesn't know what he's saying . . . . Judge by the truth of this picture the falseness of

is as much passive as it is active - it is still as much a mimesis in the nar row sense as a "pure and ungraspable poiesis (in withdrawat and always withdrawn in its presence): a productive or formative force, energy in the strict sense, the perpetual movement of presentation" (259) . The activity by which the actor creates his role is also a passivity through which the qualities of his character take possession of him, and he becomes the character. The full version of the paradox, in other words, can be viewed as consistent both with Diderot's insistence on the importance of the role of observation in art and with the (opposite) view that the activity of the artist is spontaneous and creative. Equally important, in the fuller version of the paradox, the actor is still described as being without sensitivity or passion, but, paradoxi cally, these same qualities are not subtracted from him. Instead, sen sibility or passion itself now has been revealed as conforming to the logic of paradox: passion is always concealed when it is revealed, and vice versa . Where passion is present, the spectators will not see pas sion on the stage. Where passion is absent, the spectators will see it on the stage. In short, where passion is concerned, not only is more less. All is none and none is all. The actor whose natural sensitivity is more passionate is less able to represent passion and the actor who is without natural sensitivity is better able to represent passion. That is to say, the actor who is more passionate is less passionate, and vice versa. The First, then, in defending his thesis on acting, never suc ceeds in convincing the Second not because his arguments are not strong enough but because the position of each presupposes the other - because identification presupposes (indifferently) both activ ity and passivity, passion and reflection. It is thus impossible for the argument of either the First or the Second to prevail in purely theoretical terms. But it is j ust as impossible to dem onstrate the validity of either argument on the basis of practice, because the theater can only provide evidence that supports both equally well. The spectator of a given play cannot determine whether the actor who gives an exceptional performance is dominated by passion or reflec tion, as the First concedes in talking to himself while the Second accom panies him, absorbed in his own thoughts : Supposing a consummate actor ceases playing with his head, that he forgets himself, that his heart gets involved, that sensibility overcomes him, that he gives in to it. He will make us drunk with pleasure. -Perhaps. -He will transport us with admiration. -It's

204 + TRAG IC MATRIX OF SPECULATIVE PHILOS OPHY these theatrical dialogues where two friends have so much pres ence of mind and control themselves so well . (334) A critique of traditional acting techniques and conventions is still being made in the Paradoxe as it was in the Entretiens, and the spontaneous ges tures and stammering language of passion still prov-ide the model against which acting is to be judged . If in the case of the great actor reflection dominates passion, there are nonetheless at least two forms of reflection, one totally at odds with passion (or perhaps one could say, dialectically related to it), another having the greatest possible affinity with (or perhaps one could say, hyperbologically related to) it. It is quite true that, as Lacoue-Labarthe remarks in passing, Diderot never makes a "serious apology for frenzy or confuses genius with manic delirium" ("Diderot," 262) . But it is equally true that he never seriously writes an apology for this other type of reflection- or for an acting that would be stilted, conventional, or stylized. "Nothing, " writes Lacoue-Labarthe, "is being rejected in relation to inspiration, except frenzied possession" (262 , translation modified) . And, correspondingly, reflection is not being defended en bloc, but rather only insofar as it has an affinity with a passion whose transmission or representation it makes possible. Lacoue-Labarthe's decision to treat the paradox in terms of the theme of reflection, understood as the indication of the absence of any quality that would be proper to the artist, is thus clearly at the antipodes of the organicist logic in terms of which other commentators of Diderot have treated- and sought to resolve -the paradox of his aesthetic. But how ever dramatically Lacoue-Labarthe's interpretation differs from an organicist one, it too amounts to an attempt if not to resolve then at least to subject the paradox of the Paradoxe to a limitation, one that makes apparent what in Lacoue-Labarthe's terms is the radical, critical power of Diderot's conception of acting. For Lacoue-Labarthe, the subordina tion of passion to reflection in this text is tantamount to a revelation that what is proper to art is nothing, that is, that art is totally lacking in any thing that would be proper to it. By treating the theme of reflection as totally dominant, Lacoue-Labarthe can assimilate Diderot's text on act ing with a conception of art that sees it as radically other than specula tive philosophy, thanks to its lack of any "properness, " thanks to the absence of any qualities that would make it possible to identify the artist, and hence art itself, as a subj ect. Given this interpretation of the Paradoxe and of the problem of iden-

GE N E RALIZED M IMESIS AND THE PARADOX + 205 tification, Lacoue-Labarthe's ultimate conclusion that Diderot betrays the most radical possibilities of mimesis when he pits "active, virile, for mative, properly artistic or poietic mimesis, " which "presupposes no preliminary subject, " against "passive mimesis" (265) comes as some thing of a surprise. As I have argued, this conclusion can be contested on the basis of the many elements of the Paradoxe which indicate that the two versions of mimesis are indistinguishable or identical. But what makes it surprising is that Lacoue-Labarthe himself explicitly attaches critical value to the thesis of the First- that is, to a conception of mime sis as pure poiesis - and has himself separated it from passive mimesis in his reading of the Paradoxe in order to highlight its significance. The very form of mimesis with which Lacoue-Labarthe identifies its critical potential (a mimesis of reflection rather than passion) thus becomes the form he identifies with the mimesis of Aristotle, a specular form of mimesis in which the absence of subjectivity can be converted into a fonn of subjectivity, thanks to the active nature of the mimetic process. This apparent reversal in Lacoue-Labarthe's interpretation could be argued to be necessary in view of his argument that Diderot's own strat egy in regard to mimesis is contradictory: in Lacoue-Labarthe's words, it reveals an attempt to "seek in mimesis a remedy for mimesis" (z66). But given the complexity of the Diderot who authors the Paradoxe, a complexity perhaps even greater than that suggested by Lacoue Labarthe, it is extremely difficult to argue that there is a strategy with respect to identification in this text. If the text does unquestionably place an emphasis on the theme of reflection and on an active form of mimesis, it does so against a background in which the indeterminacy and the indifference of reflection and passion, active and passive mime sis, are consistently being indicated as well. The point is not that Dide rot has already said what Lacoue-Labarthe tells us about mimesis in his reading of Diderot. It is, rather, that by adopting what is ultimately a crit ical stance in relation to Diderot, Lacoue-Labarthe reveals, despite him self, not just the limitation of Diderot's version of mimesis, but the limitation of what for him is the most critical version of it -if you will, of his own version of mimesis. Even a generalized form of identification or mimesis must of necessity be linked to a subject and in this sense be dialectical; this is the underlying logic that compels Lacoue-Labarthe to separate active from passive mimesis in order to reveal the critical potential of Diderot's the Paradoxe and also to criticize this same text as an attempt to reappropriate imitation for a subject.

206 + TRAGI C MATRIX O F SPE CULATIVE PHILOS OPHY Can there be an art that is pure identification, that is the absolute other of philosophy, that is, of philosophy understood as the specula tive? In the light of Lacoue-Labarthe's analyses of Diderot and Holder lin, one would have to say no, both because of and despite what he says. It is not just that Holderlin's theoretical texts are "speculative through and through." It is -this would be the ultimate implication of Lacoue-Labarthe's analysis, the one from which he pulls back when he distinguishes between Diderot and Holderlin - because the hyperbolo gic is none other than the speculative itself, in its strange relationship of nonidentity with itself. The critique of the speculative thus involves underscoring not only its affinity with paradox but also its own non identity, its own radically critical potential. Identification belongs exclusively to neither philosophy nor art, and it would be false to attach any privilege to art based on its purportedly greater affinity with the essence of identification, or with a generalized rather than a limited form of it. The philosopher or artist can (legiti mately) limit identification, that is, find in identification resources that can be turned against identification. But the significance of such a dis covery is always ambiguous. Identilication triumphs over the effort to control it- and also manifests itself in the effort to control it. In other words, there is no art without identification, but there is no pure art and no pure identification: that is, there is no art that is not philosoph ical and speculative. The critique of speculative philosophy is thus an "infinite task" because it is one that necessitates a continual critical questioning of the "other" of philosophy- of art- as well .

+ Sexual Identification and the Social: + Freud and Beaumarchais

The whole evening I had been in high spirits and in a combative mood . . . . And now all kinds of insolent and revolutionary ideas were going through my head, in keeping with Figaro's words and with my recollections of Beaumarchais' comedy which I had seen acted by the Comedie fran<;:aise. I thought of the phrase about the great gentlemen who had taken the trouble to be born, and of the droit du Seigneur which Count Almaviva tried to exercise over Susanna.

Freud's "Politics" of Identification

In Freud's essays on society, including Totem and T aboo, The Future of an Illusion, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, and Civilization and Its Discontents, the theme of identilication consistently emerges as central for understanding the nature and existence of social forma tions from a psychoanalytic standpoint. Freud's concept of identifica tion provides him with a perspective from which to criticize existing social formations and existing social theories, and it is also fundamen tally intertwined with the various elements of his own, complex view of society. And yet, despite Freud's attempts to define it and dspite the way it is illuminated by his interpretation of society, his concept of identification is problematical, encompassing (at least) two tenden cies or alternatives. In the words of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, the first involves a "massive identification with the Father," that is, a privileging of the identilication between father and son as the model in terms of which identification in general must be defined, while the second is "another problematic of identification" in which not only the father-son model of identification but identity itself is in guestion.1 In Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, Freud turns to the

208 + SE XUAL IDENTIFICATION AND THE SOC IAL psychoanalytic concept of identification in order to take the first step in the elaboration of the contribution of psychoanalysis to the theory of groups. In the chapter "Identification, " he states that identification is "known to psycho-analysis as the earliest expression of an emo tional tie with another person."2 Before the ego has taken on a definite form and hence before the other can become an object for the ego, the individual is already capable of forming a tie with the other through identification (18:106). Since Freud's principal object in Group Psychology is to understand how groups are formed, how they pre serve themselves, and how they resist disintegration, his discussion of identification here focuses on its role in the establishment and maintenance of social ties or bonds and on the way it roots them in the deepest and earliest phases of psychological development. Nonetheless, in the same chapter of Group Psychology, Freud also shows that identification can be a disruptive force in relation to the individual and therefore by implication in relation to the group as well. In a form of identification that he asserts is characteristic of melancholia, the ego has identified itself with an object upon which it now seeks to take revenge. In a case such as this, we see that iden tification can alienate as well as create a bond, though in this case it alienates one portion of the ego from another: These melancholias . . . show us the ego divided, fallen into two pieces, one of which rages against the second. This second piece is the one which has been altered by introjection and which contains the lost object. But the piece which behaves so cruelly is not unknown to us either. It comprises the conscience, a critical agency within the ego, which even in normal times takes up a critical attitude towards the ego. (18:109) Melancholia shows us a more spectacular version of the ambiguous functioning of identification "even in normal times." It reveals that the process of identification can be a disruptive one in which one por tion of the ego rages against another. The reasons for this disruptive aspect of identification, even in nor mal times, are clear by the time Freud writes Civilization and Its Discon tents, if not earlier: that portion of the ego which has split itself off and become the superego is in the service of the aggressive instincts, and the rage it directs against the first part of the ego derives its force and persistence from them.

FREUD AND BEAUMARC HAIS + 209 What happens to [the individual] to render his desire for aggres sion innocuous? Something very remarkable, which we should never have guessed and which is nevertheless quite obvious. His aggressiveness is introjected, internalized; it is, in point of fact, sent back to where it came from-that is, it is directed towards his own ego. There it is taken over by a portion of the ego, which sets itself over against the rest of the ego as super ego, and which now, in the form of "conscience, " is ready to put into action against the ego the same harsh aggressiveness that the ego would have liked to satisfy upon other, extraneous indi viduals. (Civilization, 21:123) The introjection described here, like that described in the case of the melancholic in Group Psychology, is a form or variant of identification. "By means of identification, [the child] takes the unattackable author ity into himself. The authority now turns into his super-egd' (Civiliza tion, 21:129) . When identification is understood in terms of the model provided by the introjection of the authority-figure, it appears signifi cantly more complex than when Freud defines it as "the earliest expression of an emotional tie with another person." It now appears not only as a form of unification but also of dissociation (Lacoue Labarthe and Nancy, "Le Peuple juif ne reve pas, " 65) in which the ego can become divided from itself and therefore, by implication, from the other with which it identifies. Because of the dissociative nature of identification, it is never completely clear whether, as Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy put it, the superego "is a SuperEgo, " (as we might say a Superman) or instead a "beyond-the-ego [ un au-dela du Moi]" (62). The more complex description of identification has become neces sary in great part because aggression has entered the picture and is now seen to play a role in identification as important as love. This is a significant point not because aggression is being designated as the dominant instinct but, rather, because love and aggression now disso ciate the instinctual itself, thus problematizing in advance any attempt to define or redefine the subject in terms of affect or instinct. The split between the superego and the ego reveals itself to be a repetition of an "original" dissociation at the level of the instinctual itself. And just as the subj ect of identification becomes radically problematic in the light of the conflict between the ego and the superego, so "there is no subject of ambivalence" (64).

210 + SEXUAL IDENTIF I CATION AND THE SOC IAL The implications of the more complex view of identification in rela tion to the social are clear. The bonds between individuals are, or at any rate can be, undermined in the very process of their formation. At the same time, the process of identification can no longer be said to be governed by the individual - it is the process of identification that defines the individual as dissociation/association. The individual is constitutively open not just to an other or to others as a group but also to an alterity that belongs neither to the other, nor to the group, nor to the individual himself or herself. Freud's sense of the problematic nature of the relationship between psychoanalysis and politics corresponds in large part to the more com plex view of identification that emerges in these two major essays. In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud formulates what for him is one of the most powerful objections to the political relevance of psychoanal ysis in the following terms: I would not say that an attempt . . . to carry psychoanalysis over to the cultural community was absurd or doomed to be fruitless. But we should have to be very cautious and not forget that, after all, we are only dealing with analogies [between the individual and civilization] and it is dangerous, not only with men but also with concepts, to tear them from the sphere in which they have originated and been evolved . . . . As regards the therapeutic application of our knowledge, what would be the use of the most correct analysis of social neuroses, since no one possesses authority to impose such a therapy upon the group? (21:144) Psychoanalysis has no clear practical relevance to politics, since no political or social agency exists that could serve as the psychoanalyst of society or use its authority to impose the analysis and therapy of a properly psychoanalytical authority such as Freud. This state of affairs is no accident in terms of the picture of society that emerges from Civilization and Its Discontents in particular. Quite the contrary: according to that essay, it is the necessary consequence of the process through which societies are formed. Because the "incli nation to aggression constitutes the greatest impediment to civiliza tion" (21:122), the aggressive instincts must of necessity be most severely restricted by society. As a result, the process of identification linking the members of a group to any figure of authority will always be ambivalent. There can be no form of social authority whose legit-

FREUD AND BEAUMARCHAIS + 211 imacy is not (unconsciously) contested, who is not an object of (unconscious) aggression. The same is true, of course, in the case of psychoanalysis. But the psychoanalyst works with his patient in an "environment, which is assumed to be 'normal"' (21:144), whereas the social or political authority-figure has no such context within which to place his analysis of society. As a result, there is no way for him to convert negative identification, which comprises an aspect of every relationship to authority, into something positive. The character of identification itself thus limits the practical rele vance of psychoanalysis to politics. But the ambiguous social signifi cance of identification also implicitly constitutes a crucial political insight, one in terms of which the weaknesses of a broad range of political theories and regimes can be understood. From Freud's per spective, the critical implications of the ambivalence of identification are perhaps most obvious with respect, i:f not to the communist sys tem, then at any rate to communist political theory: I have no concern with any economic criticisms of the commu nist system; I cannot enquire into whether the abolition of pri vate property is expedient or advantageous. But I am able to recognize that the psychological premises on which the system is based are an untenable illusion. . . . Aggressiveness was not created by property. It reigned almost without limit in primitive times, when property was still very scanty, and it already shows itself in the nursery almost before property has given up its pri mal, anal form. (21: 113) From the standpoint of Freud, the fatal flaw in the psychological premises of communist political theory is that it does not recognize the "instinctual" nature of aggression. But the communist system does not escape from or eradicate aggression by refusing to recognize its primary nature, according to Freud. On the contrary, that system subsists only insofar as it too provides an outlet or means of expres sion for aggression, which in the case of communist societies is directed against the bourgeoisie (21:115) . Freud concludes his remarks on the communist system by wondering, "with concern," what will become of the aggression directed at the bourgeois once the bour geoisie has ceased to exist. Liberal, democratic regimes and liberalism itself, however, are based on an equally defective theory of identification and equally

212 + SEXUAL IDENTIFICATION AND THE SOCIAL faulty "psychological premises." Such regimes actively promote iden tification in order to maintain themselves, but the form of identifica tion they foster is a reductive one that impoverishes them: Perhaps we may also familiarize ourselves with the idea that there are difficulties attaching to the nature of civilization which will not yield to any attempt at reform . Over and above the tasks of restricting the instincts, which we are prepared for, there forces itself on our notice the danger of a state of things which might be termed "the psychological poverty of groups:' This danger is most threatening where the bonds of a society are chiefly constituted by the identification of its members with one another, while individuals of the leader type do not acquire the importance that should fall to them in the formation of a group. The present cultural state of America would give us a good opportunity for studying the damage to civilization which is thus to be feared. (21:116) Identification provides the psychological basis for the formation of groups, but it is a concept and process that includes variants, of which the identification of the members of a given group with one another constitutes only one. The other, ultimately more important form of identification is that between the members of the group and those Freud considers to be of the leader type. The psychological pov erty of groups is the result of the emphasis placed on identification between the members of the group at the expense of identification with a leader or leaders. If one analyzes this condemnation of liberalism in the light of the model of identification provided by the creation, through introjection, of the superego, its meaning becomes clearer. The aggressiveness of the superego does indeed represent a danger from the social stand point, an "impediment to civilization." But the superego is not just a more aggressive form of the ego; it is also a higher form of it, one that lies beyond the ego and its narrow, narcissistic claims. In grounding itself in the identification between the sons, liberal regimes protect themselves to some extent from the aggressiveness of the social instances that correspond to the superego. But they also rob them selves of the opening to alterity symbolized by the superego. As a result, liberal society is reduced to an association of egos, who, even when they are supposedly concerned with others (the other brothers), are in fact concerned only with other versions of themselves. In short,

FREUD AND BEAUMARC HAIS + 213 (the) aggressiveness (of the superego) is both negative and positive. Freud's critique of liberalism is consistent with the view of society expressed in Totem and Taboo, according to which the oldest form of association among human beings is the primal horde, in which a "vio lent and jealous father who keeps all the females for himself . . . drives away his sons as they grow up" (18:141) . From Freud's stand point what is natural is not just the existence of groups but also their domination by strong leaders, who inevitably become the object of the ambivalent emotions -hatred and admiration-felt by the primal sons for the primal father. As he puts it in Group Psychology, "Let us venture, then, to correct Trotter's pronouncement that man is a herd animal and assert that he is rather a horde animat an individual crea ture in a horde led by a chief" (18:121) . It would be a mistake to dismiss Freud's theoretical predilection in favor of the identification between the group and its leader simply and exclusively as a manifestation of the paternal or authoritarian prejudices of a man who most certainly cherished an image of him self as father and leader, in his private life but, more importantly, in terms of the science he founded. Civilization and Its Discontents also shows very clearly that if Freud is critical of the poverty of liberal regimes, he is equally if not more critical of authoritarian regimes of the type exemplified by modern imperial Germany. It was no acci dent that "the dream of a Germanic world-dominion called for anti semitism as its complement" (Civilization, 21: 114-15) . Regimes such as the one alluded to in this passage exploit and direct outward the aggressive component in identification. They "bind together a consid erable number of people in love" by making "other people . . . receive the manifestations of their aggressiveness" (21:114) . Freud's condem nation of these regimes and their leaders is clear and unequivocal. The psychological basis of authoritarian, protofascist and fascist regimes lies in the way they channel outward the hatred directed at the primal father in the most primitive form of society. The poverty of liberalism and communism lies in that they ignore or deny the exis tence of the aggressive instincts. Freud's insistence on the importance of the leader should be interpreted in the light of these equally unac ceptable alternatives. In Totem and T aboo, he briefly addresses "the question of why the emotional attitude towards rulers includes such a powerful unconscious element of hostility, " even though that ques tion is "one that lies outside the limits" he sets for himself in his

214 + SE XUAL IDENTIFICATION AND THE SOC IAL essay. In saying almost nothing on the subject, however, he says what in psychoanalytic terms is the essential: "the child's complex of emo tions towards his father-the father-complex'- has a bearing on the aboo, 1}:51) . In other words, the unconscious hos otem and T subject" (T tility of the members of groups toward the leaders of groups is a result, or a repetition, of the unconscious hostility of the son toward the father and is thus directly connected to the Oedipus complex. Societies in which "individuals of the leader type" play an impor tant role are thus in principle best able to avoid both the impoverish ment characteristic of those in which identification among the mem bers of the group dominates, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the destructiveness of those in which identification with the group is solidified by directing aggression against outsiders. In a society bound together not only by identification among the members of the group but also by identification with individuals of the leader type, positive links exist between all the members, but aggression can also find an outlet, as it were, within the society: it can be expressed in the relationship to the leaders, in the form of ambivalence. Freud, of course, makes no specific suggestions and provides no detailed description of the form of society he implicitly contrasts with communist, liberal, and imperial or fascist societies. Such sugges tions or description would clearly violate the spirit of his cautionary words concerning the political authority or, rather the lack of political otem and Taboo Freud authority of psychoanalysis. Nonetheless, in T does provide a model for a society that seems to fulfill the criteria implied in his critique of modern political regimes. Inasmuch as the hostility of members of the group for their leaders is rooted in the individual Oedipus complex, it comes as no surprise that the model society he proposes in the closing pages of Totem and Taboo is Greek and tragic. In the most ancient Greek tragedy: A company of individuals, named and dressed alike surrounded a single figure, all hanging upon his words and deeds: they :vere the Chorus and the impersonator of the Hero. He was orig mally the only actor. Later, a second and third actor were added to pia as counterpart to the Hero and as characters split off from him; but the character of the Hero himself and his relation to the Chorus remained unaltered. The Hero of tragedy must _ day that remains the essence of a tragedy. He had suffer; to this to bear the burden of what was known as "tragic guilt"; the

FREUD AND B EAUMARCHAIS + 215 basis of that guilt is not always easy to find, for in the light of our everyday life it is often no guilt at all . . . . But why had the Hero of tragedy to suffer? and what was the meaning of his "tragic guilt"? I will cut the discussion short and give a quick reply. He had to suffer because he was the primal father, the Hero of the great primeval tragedy [the murder of the primal father] which was being re-enacted with a tendentious twist; and the tragic guilt was the guilt which he had to take on himself in order to relieve the Chorus from theirs. (13:155-56) In the earliest form of Greek tragedy, identification between the mem bers of the chorus is solidified through an identification with the hero, and the aggressive component in that identification finds expres sion not directly, as in the case of the murder of the primal father, but in an indirect and distorted manner, in the requirement that the tragic hero suffer as atonement for "his" guilt. In this passage, Freud provides a socio-psychoanalytical interpreta tion of Aristotelian catharsis. The purgation of fear and pity by the arousal of fear and pity to which Aristotle refers in his interpretation of tragedy is, in Freud's terms, a discharge of the emotional ambiva lence directed toward the father. Just as for Aristotle the discharge of fear and pity is effected through an arousal of fear and pity, so for Freud ambivalence is purged through the arousal of ambivalence by the tragic spectacle - and by individuals of the leader type. From a purely theoretical standpoint, this description of Greek tragedy is clearly relevant to Freud's positive view of societies in which individ uals of the leader type play an important role. Its practical political rel evance, however, is of course highly problematical, given the ritualistic, fictive, or theatrical nature of the model. If Greek tragedy does offer a p ositive model, it is one that indicates only that any mod ern regime must in its own way account for the unconscious forces expressed in it; but the modern regime must do so in a mode that takes account of reality. This does not mean, however, that art does not or can not play a political role, in Freud's view. In Group Psychology he hypothesizes that the first modern society, and, moreover, the first society in which a leader emerges from the group, was governed by a poet. In the post script to that essay, he writes that the murder of the primal father was followed by a period in which there were a number of fathers, each of whose rights were limited by those of the others:

216 + SEXUAL IDENTIFI CATION A N D THE SOC IAL It was then, perhaps, that some individual, in the exigency of his longing, may have been moved to free himself from the group and take over the father's part. He who did this was the first epic poet; and the advance was achieved in his imagination. This poet disguised the truth with lies in accordance with his longing. He invented the heroic myth. The hero was a man who by himself had slain the father. . . . The transition to the hero was probably afforded by the youngest son, the mother's favour ite, whom she had protected from paternal jealousy. . . . The myth, then, is the first step by which the individual emerges from group psychology. . . . His hearers understand the poet, and, in virtue of their having the same relation of longing towards the primal father, they can identify themselves with the hero. (Group Psychology, 18:136-37) Though, in Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud questions whether any one has the authority to implement the insights of psychoanalysis to the rule of society, in this passage from G roup Psychology he seems to indi cate that the poet does have such an authority, one that, moreover, be cause of the way it addresses the problematic character of identification, can be said to put into practice the social insights of psychoanalysis. The epic poet successfully transforms catharsis from a blind or instinctual social dynamic into the instrument of a politics. The poet is himself an individual of the leader type, and his poetry is the means through which he awakens the ambivalent feelings of the sons for the primal father. Their hostility toward him is expressed in the epic myth recounting his slaying, and their love for him is expressed in their iden tification with the hero, who has now taken the father's place. Just as his mother's love protected him from the jealousy of his father when he was still a child, so his art protects him, as an adult, from the jealousy of his brothers. Whereas in Plato's Republic the philosopher is king, Freud's model society is implicitly one governed by a poet whose insights into the nature of individual and social psychology, whether intuitive or conscious, coincide with those of the psychoanalyst. The emphasis that Freud places on the social importance of individ uals of the leader type is thus a direct result of the rigor of his attempt to address the social consequences of the complex character of iden tification. Given the nature of identification as it emerges in Freud's texts on the psychology of groups, it comes as no surprise that the political authority of psychoanalysis - and art - is problematical . Psy-

FREUD AND BEAUMARCHAIS + 217 choanalysis directly and art indirectly both indicate the importance and fundamental character of the unconscious hostility of the sons toward the father, and thus both point to the social forces that make any political authority, even their own, uneasy at best. But this is pre cisely why, in Freud's terms, any truly legitimate political authority is founded in the authority of the father: because such an authority best exemplifies and provides an outlet for the ambivalent character of identification. As we have seen, Freud's politics of identification is critical of all political interpretations of identification that would reduce or ignore its ambivalent character, as well as of political regimes that exploit its destructive force to consolidate their own authority. And yet Freud's own concept of identification, however complex, is itself in the end reductive of the very ambivalence whose importance he underscores in his political reflections. By identifying the father-son relationship as the one that best exemplifies the ambivalent character of identifica tion, Freud indirectly indicates that for him there are other relation ships in which identification is not as ambivalent, or in which, if it is still ambivalent, identification does not play the fundamental role. In this sense, the privilege he attaches to the father-son relationship itself could be argued to be founded on a reductive concept of idenc tification, which would provide the background against which ambiv alent father-son identification could emerge. The exact sense in which Freud's own discussion of relations to others involves a reductive form or concept of identification becomes apparent when one compares passages from his essays on society. Note the contrast between the passages in which the ambivalence of the father-son relationship is designated as the most central for under standing the nature of society and other passages in which Freud stresses the ambivalent nature of virtually all forms or instances of identification : "The evidence of psycho-analysis shows that almost every intimate emotional relation between two people which lasts for some time - marriage, friendship, the relations between parents and children - contains a sediment of feelings of aversion and hostility, which only escapes perception as a result of repression" (18: 101) . If all intimate emotional relations that last for some time are ambivalent, then the emphasis placed in Freud's essays on society on the iden tification between the father and son seems arbitrary. The father-son relationship would provide just one example among others of the

218 + SEXUAL IDENTIFI CATION AND THE SOCIAL ambivalence of identification, and not necessarily the supreme or original example. It is obvious that from Freud's perspective the identification among the sons and the political values associated with it are secondary and derivative with respect to those he associates with the identification between father and son. Perhaps the most important of the son's val ues, in his view, is "the demand for equality, " which he holds to be "the root of social conscience and the sense of duty" (18:121). Impor tant though this demand may be, Freud argues that, because it is linked to the identification among the sons or members of the group, it is still of secondary importance: "The demand for equality in a group applies only to its members and not to the leader. All the mem bers want to be equal to one another, but they all want to be ruled by one person" (18:121) . The demand for equality is not fundamental when viewed from the standpoint of the psychological development of the individual, or of the human species. It is always subordinate in theoretical terms to identification between father and son, not because the son identifies positively with the father and therefore ele vates him above all other individuals, but because the positive and negative elements of identification are both realized to the maximum in this relationship. Though Freud attaches less importance to identification among the sons (members of a group) than to that existing between the leader (or father) and the group (or sons), it is nonetheless more important than another form of identification, that between mother and son. This is mentioned only in a note in Group Psychology and in a paren thetical aside in Civilization and Its Discontents. Given the manner in which psychoanalysis centers on the development of the male rather than the female child, it comes as no surprise that Freud's essays on society have nothing to say about the identification between daughter and father, daughter and mother, or sister and brother, or among sis ters. But even on the face of it, his view of the importance of the iden tification between father and son would seem to require some discussion of the reasons why this, rather than the identification between mother and son, should be viewed as the more significant form of identification. The reason Freud holds the identification between mother and son to be not only of lesser importance but ultimately so insignificant that its lesser importance need not even be justified is evident in his

FREUD AND BEAUMARCHAIS + 219 assessment of it, brief though it may be. To the statement that "almost every intimate emotional relation between two people which lasts for some time . . . contains a sediment of feelings of aversion and hostil ity, " he appends the following note: "Perhaps with the solitary excep tion of the relation of a mother to her son, which is based on narcissism, is not disturbed by subsequent rivalry, and is reinforced by a rudimen tary attempt at sexual object-choice" (Group Psychology, 18:101) . An equally brief remark in Civilization and Its Discontents makes essentially the same point: ''Aggressiveness . . . forms the basis of every relation of affection and love among people (with the single exception, per haps, of the mother's relation to her male child)" (21:113) . Though iden tification is the "earliest expression of an emotional tie with another person, " it is in effect preempted here by a relationship to an object-to the mother as member of the opposite sex and, therefore, as sexual object. By contradicting his own law that identification predates all other forms of relation to the other, Freud is able to make an exception to the universal rule of ambivalent identification. The implications of this exception are clear. Despite the tremendous significance of the mother-son relationship in terms of the development of the individual, because of its lack of ambivalence, it is totally without significance from the standpoint of social psychology.3 The privilege Freud attaches to the ambivalent identification between the father and the son thus depends on the theoretical sub ordination of identification among the sons and also on the presup position that the mother-son relationship in its essence is free of any fundamental hostility. 4 This presupposition contradicts Freud's own pronouncement concerning the universality of ambivalence and is also implicitly reductive of the more complex sense of identification that leads him to criticize liberal regimes, in particular. It indicates that, despite the importance he attaches to ambivalence, there is nonetheless a subject of identification, according to Freud, more spe cihcally a male subject, whose masculinity preempts identification and thus makes it possible to select a model form of identification from among the myriad instances of identification. The paternal authority whose interiorization results in the emergence of the super ego is indeed other for the son, but it is nevertheless still recognizably the same because of the masculinity (and authority) they share as males. While Freud opposes his own view of the ambivalent nature of

220 + SEXUAL IDENTIFI CATION AND THE SOCIAL identification to the psychological premises of liberalism and commu nism and uses it to criticize the sinister practices of fascism, that view can itself be opposed to another view, in terms of which the lack of ambivalence of the mother-son relation would no longer be consid ered self-evident and identification among the sons and daughters and the corresponding demand for equality-would no longer appear derivative with respect to the relationship of the group to its leaders. In this other view, identification itself would be more fundamental than any instance or model of identification, whether based on pater nal authority or maternal narcissism. As a result, there would be no subject of identification, properly speaking; the subject would be dis sociated in principle and from the very beginning; it would be split by an alterity that is the property of no single subject, even a symbolic one. It would thus be a social subject in a radical sense, but neither a patriarchal nor matriarchal model of society would be al::ile to account for what Kant would have called its unsocial sociability. Like the authority of psychoanalysis itself, such a view of the psy chological bases of the political would be problematical: it would not clearly designate any political authority that might implement it. But just as psychoanalysis provides certain insights into the importance and function of the individuals of the leader type in the life of groups, so such a view, provided its psychological bases and implications were spelled out, would be a potential source of insight into the demand for equality. It would illuminate that demand from a perspec tive that, while it may no longer be strictly psychoanalytical, would, nonetheless, like psychoanalysis, take account of the ambivalent char acter of identification - of all instances of identification.

FREUD AND BEAUMARCHAIS + 221 and even to his last melodrama, La Mere coupable. Beaumarchais's con cept of identification, like Lessing's, is implicit in his interpretation of the distinctive form of pity that both tragedy and drama (and even, eventually, a comedy such as Figaro) are capable of inspiring. What makes pity central to drama, he argues, in a manner that recalls Less ing, is the self-reflexive quality it takes on in the theatrical context. The interest we feel for the characters of a given play is "the involun tary sentiment through which we apply this event [by which they are affected] to ourselves, the sentiment which puts us in the place of the one who suffers, in the midst of his situation."5 Pity, in other words, becomes dramatically significant when it is transformed by the art of the dramatist into identification, when it "puts us in the place of the one who suffers." Beaumarchais's admiration for Diderot relates directly to his convic tion that the genre serieux described in the Entretiens sur le Fils naturel and exemplified in Diderot's plays represents the most serious modern attempt to strengthen and deepen theatrical identification. Beaumar chais's concern with the central role played by identification also links his own early (and late) attempts at melodrama with his best-known work, Le Mariage de Figaro, even though, at first glance, this celebrated comedy seems far removed from the tone, language, characters, and ethico-aesthetic values of the genre serieux.6 In the eyes of Diderot and Lessing, a central - if not the central - innovation of the genre serieux serving to strengthen the identification of the spectators with the prin cipal characters is the substitution of middle-class for aristocratic or royal heroes and heroines. Beaumarchais echoes them both in the essay that serves as a preface to his Eugenie (an essay in which he explic itly pays homage to Diderot and identifies himself as his disciple) : "The more the man who suffers is of an estate close to mine, the greater the hold his misfortune has on my soul" ("Essai, " 39). Several years later, B eaumarchais was to write of his abandonment of drama in the "Lettre sur la critique, " which serves as a preface to Le Barbier de Seville; but he describes this abandonment in terms that make it clear he has not given up the aims of the genre serieux, even if he is no longer a practitioner of it: Previously, out of weakness, I presented you, at different times, with two sorry dramas; monstrous productions, as we know! For between tragedy and comedy, no one any longer doubts that

Beaumarchais's Le Mariage de Figaro: Sexual Identification and the Demand for Equality
The term identification is not explicitly found in the work of Beaumar chais any more than it is in the work of Lessing or Diderot. However, a process of identification is the implicit central principle of both his critical texts - in which he justifies and explains his own work and also, to a greater or lesser extent, the value of the genre serieux - and of his plays (with the possible exception of his early "parades"), from his first melodramas to Le Barbier de Seville and Le Mariage de Figaro,

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FREUD AND BEAUMARCHAIS + 223 throughout the play, a character is ridiculed not because he has departed from or transgressed norms of propriety, reason, or moral ity that prevail in the society at large but, rather, because he is caught in a conflict with his own proclaimed norms and values, which he con sistently holds up for others but fails to apply to his own conduct.7 As Figaro puts it in addressing the count in the final act: "You rule every thing here, except yourself" (act 5, scene 12, p. 323) . In order better to take advantage of others, the character - in these two cases the count has deliberately refused to refer the situation he sees before him back to himself. He has refused, in other words, to put himself in the place of the other. The conflict described in Figaro does not simply pit those of average condition against the members of the aristocracy, even if the class dis tinctions among the characters are highly significant . It is a conflict that plays itself out in terms of a general process of identification that encompasses identification along class lines but is not limited to it. At first glance, this conflict based in and on identification seems to oppose those who identify with others to those who are unwilling or unable to do so. It appears that the count is the character most unwill ing or least able to identify with the other characters, whereas they are united against him by their ability to identify with him and with each other. Despite specific conflicts between Bartholo and Figaro, Bazile and Figaro, and Figaro and Antonio, all the male characters in Figaro are ultimately united against the count because of his superior social position and his political and legal authority over them. 8 In this sense they identify with each other and are capable of joining forces against him, as is evident in the final act when they go with Figaro to the garden in order to catch the count in the act of seducing Suzanne. But, equally important, in doing this they are all working in essential harmony not only with Suzanne, but even with the countess. In this sense, then, the basis of their common identification extends beyond class alone. The identification among the women characters is even more self evident, so m uch so that it seems Beaumarchais, like Rousseau before him and Freud after him, is indicating that the woman better exem plifies (positive, unambivalent) identification than the man, and that the mother exemplifies it best of all. Though the count's interest in Suzanne would seem to represent a potential source of serious conflict between the countess and her servant, in fact harmony pre-

nothing exists. The point has been decided, the master has said it, the school reverberates with it . . . . Present men of average condition crushed and unhappy! Tsk, tsk! They must never be shown unless they are scoffed at. Comic citizens and unhappy kings, there you have the whole of existing and possible theater; and I hold myself to have been told as much; it's done, and I don't want to quarrel anymore with anyone. (Theatre, 22-23) In this passage, Beaumarchais's attachment to what for him is the cen tral principle of the genre serieux is as obvious as his sarcasm. Accord ing to the criterion Beaumarchais himself provides here, Le Mariage de Figaro, if not Le Barbier itself, still conforms in the most crucial respect to the basic model of drama, inasmuch as its central figures are still a man and a woman of average condition, that is, "of an estate close to mine." If Figaro is viewed from the perspective of Beaumarchais's critical texts on the theater, it becomes apparent that it represents more a culmination of and continuing commitment to his reflections on and experiments with the genre serieux than a radical break with them. When contrasted with the clever valets of the comedies in the de cades preceding Figaro, the figure of Figaro appears as an obvious attempt to create a comic hero with whom the spectator can nonethe less identify because he is a man like ourselves. A fuller interpreta tion of the play only serves to deepen and strengthen this initial impression . In the central conflict between Figaro and the count, as well as in the myriad conflicts among all the different characters, identification emerges as the decisive issue in terms of which both the aesthetic and the political aims of the play can be formulated and elucidated. In his preface to Figaro, Beaumarchais indicates the central role played by identification in the play as a whole in a passage in which he discusses the "profound morality that makes itself felt in the entire work" (151) . He quotes an incident from his play by way of illustra tion: the count, thinking he has caught his unfaithful wife, shows a door to his gardener and demands that he enter it and bring out his wife, whom he supposes to have dishonored herself and thereby him. To this the gardener replies that there surely is a Providence, since it is only fair that the count, who has himself been responsible for there being so many dishonored women in the region, should now in turn be dishonored ("Preface, " 151) . In this instance, as

224 + SEXUAL IDENTIFICATION AND THE SOCIAL vails, and, with perhaps one very slight exception, the two women work in concert throughout the play. Marceline is the only female character to express jealously and bitterness for more than a moment, and she is also, if only briefly, the count's only feminine ally. But, sig nificantly, she is both of these only prior to the scene in which she learns that Figaro is her son. Then she abruptly cPases to be the spite ful old duenna and becomes someone radically different, not only the tender mother of Figaro but also the staunch supporter of Suzanne.9 It is relatively easy, then, to interpret Marceline's. sudden transformation as the most striking confirmation of the spontaneous, natural character of a feminine form of identification, which would be best exemplified in the relation between the mother and the child. Identification or natural pity would cause the mother to put herself in the place of the other- that is of her (male) child- and identify unhes itatingly both with his interests and with those of all other women that is to say, with all other mothers or potential mothers. The last scene of act 1 provides one example of the way the positive identification of the characters with one another opposes them to the count: when Figaro is joined by virtually all the other characters in the play (with the exception of Marceline and Antonio) in asking the count to reiterate publicly his renunciation of the droit de seigneur and bless Figards marriage to Suzanne. Similarly, in the final act, the count is obliged to acknowledge that he has lost a battle of wits that pitted him against the other characters as a group : "I wanted to out smart them; they have treated me like a child" (Figaro, act 5, scene 19, p. 328, my emphasis). The countess is the one who indicates that the count's isolation from the others stems from a lack of (self-reflexive) pity. At the end of the play, she says that, were he in her place, he would say, "No, nd' to his own request for forgiveness, precisely because he cannot put himself in the place of the other. But she, who implicitly has done just that, pardons him once again .10 When Le Mariage de Figaro is read as an articulation of the funda mental nature of a positive, feminine form of identification, it appears to express a liberal ideology, and its revolutionary implications seem to be restricted to the overthrow of monarchy and the establishment of a liberal regime of the type Freud describes critically when he speaks of "the psychological poverty of groups." The psychological premise of this liberalism would be a reductive concept of identifica tion that ignores its ambivalent character and thus denies aggression,



while nonetheless providin:g it with an outlet in the form of the humil iation of the count. It would be a concept of identification based on the model of the relationship between the mother and the child, and the supposed absence of ambivalence in this relationship would be taken as indicative of the true nature of identification. Identification would be subject to perversion in certain (feudal) forms of society, but there would always exist a possibility of restructuring society, through either reform or revolution, thanks to and in accordance with the underlying, natural form of (positive) identification-thanks, in Freud's terms, to the way maternal love protects the son from pater nal jealousy. But we should not forget that such positive identification is, in Freud's terms, profoundly narcissistic. What appears, at least on the surface, to be the feminine form of identification is not the only model for identification offered in the play, however. An equally important and perhaps even more archaic or primary form of it provides the key to the character of Cherubin. Of course, Cherubin has a great deal in common with the women characters. Nonetheless, adjectives such as spontaneous and natural, which could be used to describe the form of identihcation the women seem to exemplify when they act in concert, do not seem altogether adequate to describe the case of Cherubin. Because it is totally undis ciplined, uncontrolled, and perhaps uncontrollable, the form of iden tification represented by Cherubin is a force disruptive not only of the hierarchical society represented in Figaro but potentially of any imag inable political order. As depicted in the figure of Cherubin, identification appears to be the "earliest expression of an emotional tie with another person, " so early, that it predates the emergence of the ego or sense of self: "My need to say 'I love you' to someone is so bad, that I say it all by myself, running across the park; to your mistress, to you, to the trees, to the wind which takes them away with my lost words. Yesterday, I ran into Marceline" (Figaro, act 1, scene 7, p. 186) . Cherubin's love is the expres sion of a form of identification so primary that it does not distinguish between the self and its object. Thus Cherubin says, "I love you" all by himself. B ecause it cannot distinguish between itself and its object, it is equally unable or unconcerned to distinguish between different objects: Franchettte, Suzanne, the countess, the trees, or Marceline all suit Cherubin equally well. The barely adolescent Cherubin is, as Beaumarchais claims in his

226 + S EXUAL IDENTIFI CATION AND THE SOC IAL presentation of the characters of the play, "without project, without knowledge, and entirely caught up in each event" (168) . Because of his youth he lacks defmition in either social or psychological terms. Correspondingly, he is without jealousy or vanity. From either stand point, he is a character without a character, a subject without a self. Indeed, the profound sense of his lack of maturity also lies in the idea that his narcissistic identification with the objects of his love is more primitive than the ego, rather than an expression of it, as seems to be the case with the adult characters. In identifying with the women characters and in effect viewing them as part of himself, he does not make them into his property but, rather, takes on- or rather partakes of- their feminine character. The radical character of the form of identification exemplified by Cherubin is evident not only in the way he confuses himself with the object(s) of his love. The action of the play similarly confuses him with the other characters. It is because of his protean nature that Cherubin is less a distinct individual than a kind of cipher that can be substituted for or play the role of any other character. He can be dressed up like Suzanne and sent in her place to a rendezvous with the count . But he can also be substituted for the countess, as in the general confusion of the last act, when he (among others) is led from the pavilion by the count in the conviction that "she" is Rosine. Or, in another instance, in the first scenes in which he appears (act 1, scenes 7, 8, and 9), Cherubin is a double for the count, who unwittingly takes what had, seconds before, been Cherubin's place behind the chair when B azile pays a surprise visit to Suzanne. By the end of the play, Cherubin's value as a substitute for the other characters is so well established that, in the crescendo of mistaken identities that makes up the concluding scenes, one has the sense that all the char acters have been "Cherubinized, " that is, transformed into similarly protean entities any one of which can be put in the place of- that is, identified with - any other. We have seen how, in excepting the relationship between the (male) child and the mother from the universal law of ambivalence, Freud makes "rudimentary object choice" a factor in their relation ship and thus indicates that the identification between mother and child is sexually determined even in its most fundamental and archaic form. In mntrast, the character of Cherubin points to a different inter pretation of the mother-son relationship and ultimately of identifica-

FREUD AND BEAUMARC HAIS + 227 tion in general. Cherubin's significance in this regard is highlighted in a remark Beaumarchais makes in connection with his character in his directions to the actors of Le Mariage de Figaro, "Caracteres et Habille ments de la Piece." Cherubin is "what every mother, at the bottom of her heart, would perhaps like her son to be, even if she suffered greatly as a result" (168). This "universal son" thus offers the key to interpreting the mother-son relationship from the perspective of Le

Mariage de Figaro.
Significantly, the role of this universal son, according to a second remark from Beaumarchais's directions, "can be played, as it was played, only by a young and very pretty woman'' (168) . The universal son is (also) a daughter. The text of the play frequently exploits the sexual ambiguity that this casting of the role imparts to Cherubin, especially in the second act, when he is dressed up in one of Suzanne's dresses by Suzanne herself and the countess, but else where as well. ''Ah how white his arm is," exclaims Suzanne to the countess in the course of the scene in question; it's "like a woman's! It's whiter than mine! " (act 2, scene 6, p. 213) . The feminine aspect that the character of Cherubin takes on thanks to the casting and the situations in which he finds himself constitutes an important link between him and the women characters. But it also has the paradox ical effect of separating him from them. For, because of his femininity, Cherubin is neither completely masculine nor completely feminine. The result is that the form of identification linking this "son'' to the "mothers" (the women characters) cannot be said to represent simply an attempt at an object-choice, however rudimentary. Or, what amounts to the same thing, it represents a radically problematic object-choice, one that is indifferently masculine and/or feminine. Inasmuch as it presupposes no natural sexual determination whatso ever -that is, neither a subject nor an object- the form of identifica tion exemplified by Cherubin's anarchic love would be even more primary than the identification Freud supposes to be the basis of the mother-son relation. Of course, it could be argued that in introducing the character of Cherubin into the play, Beaumarchais has done nothing to undercut seriously the view that Figaro is an expression of liberal ideology. The affinities between Cherubin and the women characters can be inter preted as just one more factor isolating the count from those charac ters who exemplify the force of identification . In support of such a



FREUD AND BEAU MARC HAIS + 229 by a feudal or monarchic form of government. But because of the affinities between Cherubin and the count, and because of the way those affinities indirectly link the count to the women characters, Beaumarchais's psychological premises appear quite different from those Freud attributes to liberalism and communism. Despite all that separates him from Cherubin, when the two characters are com pared, the count can be seen to exemplify not an absence of or inca pacity for identification but, rather, another fonn of identification, perverted though it may seem. In treating others as the mere extension of himself, as property, the count too identifies himself with them: he reveals that the boundaries of his ego, like those of Cherubin's, are not fixed, but rather continu ally fluctuating. The violence he directs against others (not just Figaro, but Suzanne and the countess as well) is the sign not of a fail ure to identify but, rather (to borrow the language of Freud), of an aggressiveness inherent in identification or (in a language closer to that of Beaumarchais) of a jealousy inherent in all forms of love. This aggressive component is foregrounded in the character of the count, particularly in the scene in which his jealousy puts him on the verge of breaking down the door to the countess's dressing room in order to learn the identity of the person inside. But it is present in the less spectacular instances of jealousy experienced by almost all the other characters, as we see in the concluding scenes of the play. The ambivalent character of all love relationships finds a comic expression as slaps intended for one character land on the cheek of another, money intended to buy the favors of a mistress ends up as a contribu tion to her marriage dowry, and attempts to identify the guilty party produce a host of suspects. Suzanne and Figaro in particular, who have withstood jealousy relatively well in the previous acts, succumb to it here. The generalization of jealousy in the final scenes of the play is highly significant. If the count, in the words of the preface, is "always humiliated, without ever being debased" (151), it is at least in part because, in the terms of the play, there is something legitimate about his jealousy and vanity. In Freud's terms, one could say it is because there is something instinctual about aggression. It must be recognized as a power equal to - and invariably fused with -love. Beaumarchais's handling of the theme of jealousy indicates that for him, as for Freud, identification is by nature ambivalent. But it is when Beaumarchais is compared to Freud that one instance of jeal-

view, it could be argued that the count and Cherubin can be opposed by the different nature of their desire. In Cherubin's case, it appears to be spoPtaneous and unmediated, but in the count's case, it appears to be calculated and expressive of his own (desire for) mas tery over others. Whereas Cherubin's love is "self-less, " the count appears to love out of vanity and a sense of self, which express them selves as a consciousness of his rank and a willingness to use his social advantage to prevail in any conflict, large or small . The count, of course, pretends he wants to be loved for himself, for his intrinsic or natural merit . But he repeatedly shows that what he counts on at bottom are his money and position. The jealous nature of his love is an expression of his vanity, the infallible sign that his is a selfish, as opposed to selfless love. The count's desire transforms women into mere objects, mere pieces of property to be jealously guarded, as the countess puts it, "for honor but not for love, " or, in the case of Suzanne, exploited or simply bought. That is, Cherubin appears to be one more example of a character whose capacity for identification, excessive though it may be, has no purpose other than to highlight his own differences with the count in much the way that the more adult forms of identification oppose the other characters to the count. Despite these differences, however, the affinity between the count and Cherubin is in fact undeniable. Perhaps the clearest sign of the link between them lies in the count's constantly finding himself in Cherubin's place. As the count unwittingly follows Cherubin from the house of Franchette to the room of Suzanne, to the chambers of the countess, it becomes clear that only adulthood separates them. Furthermore, the resemblance between the two characters is implic itly part of what excuses the countess's feelings for Cherubin. They are the logical consequence of the similarity between this younger ver sion of her husband and her husband himself. The count's inability to remain faithful to the countess is a sign of the extent to which he has remained a child, and he himself is obliged to acknowledge that he has been treated like a child (and deservedly so) when he is con fronted by the other characters at the end of the play (act 5, scene 19, p. 328) . In the terms of the play, it would be more exact to say he has behaved like Cherubin. If Figaro focused only on the contrast between the count, on the one hand, and the women characters and Cherubin, on the other, it could be seen as a play about the perversion of natural identification

230 + SEXUAL IDENTIFICATION A N D THE SOCIAL ousy emerges as perhaps the most significant of all-the jealousy of Marceline. The reason why her jealousy is significant is obvious: because it indicates that, Rousseau and Freud notwithstanding, even the mother-son relationship is characterized by jealousy and ambiva lence. As Beaumarchais himself indicates in his directions, the recog nition scene in which Marceline learns she is Figaro's mother is critical not only in terms of her character but in relation to the play as a whole as well. It involves an about-face for the character and a cor respondingly difficult challenge for the actress. It is as if the actress were required to represent two completely different characters in a single play: the jealous, scheming, . and vindictive Marceline who is willing to do anything to force Figaro into marrying her, and the gen erous, loving Marceline who will do anything to help bring about his marriage with Suzanne. It is obvious that the dual nature of Marceline is the most important element in her character, and yet the significance of the duality is ambiguous. It could be interpreted in strict Freudian terms as an indi cation that the instincts of the mother are so strong that they over come the woman's natural disposition to jealousy. But it can also be interpreted as the indication that the two sides of Marceline are in fact one, that maternal love can overcome jealous love only because it is a form of (jealous) love - and thus never fully overcomes jealousy. Marceline claims that her designs upon Figaro were only the sign of a maternal love that had been temporarily thrown off course and out of character by her ignorance of their true relationship : "My heart was drawn to him, but it was fooled as to why- it was our blood relation that was calling . me" (act 3, scene 18, p. 275) . But Figaro him self laughingly points out that it is not so easy to separate the two when he tells her at the end of their recognition scene, "And you, my mother, kiss me . . . as maternally as you can" (act 3, scene 16, p. 273) . The play as a whole confirms the view underlying Figaro's ironic remark: unambivalent mother love and aggressive, jealous sexual love are not radically different but, rather, poles or aspects of a single emotion, love.11 The countess's relationship to her godson Cherubin offers another instance in which a female character's maternal feel ings for a younger man vie but also fuse with a form of love more appropriate in the countess's case to her relations with the count. In affectionately addressing Figaro more than once as "my son, " (Figaro, act 1, scene 1, p. 171; act 1, scene 10, p. 199), Suzanne indicates that

FREUD AND B EAUMARCHAIS + 231 their love too is fused with love of a mother-son type. But if all this seems to confirm that the dominant tone of the relationships between Suzanne and Figaro, Marceline and Figaro, and the countess and Cherubin is the result of a lack of ambivalence, a lack normally asso ciated with maternal love, it also indicates that in each case maternal love is tinged with a sexual and aggressive element . In the "Lettre sur la critique, " Beaumarchais claims that, given Figards ignorance con cerning the identity of his father and mother, he, Beaumarchais, could easily have made a tragic sequel to Le Barbier de Seville or turned Le Barbier itself into a tragedy in which Figaro would have become a modern Oedipus (145). It could be argued that the shadow of Phedre also hangs over Le Barbier de Seville and especially Figaro because of the ambiguous character of the relations between Marceline and Figaro -that is, because of the ambivalence of maternal love.12 Figaro is thus both an interrupted Oedipus and an interrupted Phedre, a tragedy made comic because of the way it plays with love and aggression and shows them to be constantly fused; that is, it shows that each is constantly being transformed into the other. Sig nificantly, Figaro's anguish over whether Suzanne loves him or not ends when she pommels him in the last act for having deceived her and for having been suspicious of her own fidelity: "Is this love?" she asks, as she slaps him. "Santa Barbara! yes, it's love" he answers in delight (Figaro, act 5, Scene 8, p. 318} . The ambivalence of the mother son relationship puts the (aggressive) mother in the position of the (aggressive) father and at the same time reveals the tie between aggression and love - it reveals, in other words, that the father is also a "mother." This universalization of ambivalence is indicative of what all the characters in the play share with Cherubin: a formlessness, a lack of self that is the condition/the result of this perpetual transfor mation of aggression into love and the identification of each character with all the others. From the perspective of Figaro, it can be said that the other with whom I identify is not a paternal other, but (and) neither is it merely another version of "myself, " precisely because ambivalent identification radically puts the self itself into question. The character of Figaro should also be understood in relation to the primary form of identification exemplified by Cherubin. Figards equi vocal social status is an important indication of what these two char acters share . Even before he learns who his parents are, Figaro is of course less a servant than a member of the middle class, and, in the

232 + S EXUAL IDENTIFICATION AND THE SOCIAL terms of the genre serieux, this makes him the character with whom the spectator can most readily identify. Nonetheless, class alone is not what determines Figaro's status, as is clear if one contrasts him with his father, the doctor Bartholo. Unlike his father and the heroes of, for example, Beaumarchais's drama Les Deux Amis, Figaro is defined less by a stable social and economic position than by a check ered itinerary that does not necessarily appear to have reached its end point even after he learns the identity of his father. As he de scribes himself in the soliloquy of the final act, he is barber, play wright, essayist, journalist, gambler, and servant to the count (act 6, scene 3, pp. 305-6). His illegitimate birth also makes his social status indeterminate. In short, what makes Figaro a strong example of the constitutive, primary nature of identification is what could be called, borrowing from Diderot, Figaro's "equal aptitude for all sorts of characters and roles, "13 an aptitude that corresponds to his social indeterminacy. Unlike the count, whose outlook and essence are wholly determined by his aristocratic birth, Figaro remains socially undetermined in much the same way Cherubin remains sexually undetermined . This is why he can be barber, playwright, essayist, journalist, gambler, and servant to the count with equal success. Figaro's lack of a fixed social status corresponds to a sense of self that is equally unfixed or indeterminate. As he puts it at the end of the same soliloquy in which he narrates his chaotic history: "Forced to travel the route upon which I have embarked without knowing it, just as I will leave it with out wanting to, I have strewn it with as many flowers as my gaiety per mitted me to. Again, I say my gaiety without knowing if it's mine any more than the rest, nor what is this I with which I am concerned: a formless assemblage of unknown parts" (Figaro, act 6, scene 3, pp. 3067) . Figaro is, in effect, "all and nothing, " to borrow once again from Diderot's Paradoxe. He is all, because he takes so many different forms, and nothing, because this multiplicity of forms is the indica tion of a certain formlessness that frustrates his own attempts to know himself. In terms of Diderot's Paradoxe, it is no accident that lit erary occupations predominate among the roles Figaro has played. His affinity for writing and the theater is consistent with the indeter minacy of his social and moral nature. In Figaro's long, dramatic soliloquy, Figaro (once again) verges on tragedy. Figaro appears as another version of Hamlet, whose very

FREUD AND BEAUMARCHAIS + 233 being is in question along with his marriage to Suzanne. This is indi cated not only in what he says about himself but perhaps even more forcefully in the rhetorical confusion of his speech, a confusion that culminates in the line, "There is an argument : its you, its him, its me, its thee, no, it isn't us. Ah -then who is it?, " (act 6, scene 3, p. 306). In a moment in which Figaro appears to have lost control over his own language, what is being indicated is not only the radical indeter minacy of his nature but a correspondingly radical confusion be tween himself and others. The radical loss of self depicted in this scene and in Figaro's language is in addition a strong affirmation of the social. This interpretation is confirmed inasmuch as it is not through sheer introspection that this "crisis" (act 6, scene3, p. 307) has been precipitated but, rather, because of his identification with an other - because of his feelings for Suzanne. It is in terms of a sense of the primary nature of the social that the comedy is interrupted by this tragic moment, and then resumes once again . One could of course argue that from a standpoint such as Freud's, Figaro's artistic nature does not make him radically indeterminate but, on the contrary, is perhaps the clearest expression of what makes him an "individual of the leader type." He could be seen as an embod iment of the epic poet, whose identity and authority are based on art. A similar argument could be made in terms of the perspective of Lacoue-Labarthe in his reading of Diderot's Paradoxe sur le comedien, though in Lacoue-Labarthe's terms, it would place Figaro in a nega tive, rather than positive light. According to such an argument, Figaro's lack of qualities, his impropriety, would in fact be the source and the sign of his mastery as an artist, of a (superior) form of subjec tivity. In support of such a view, one might stress that Figaro's advan tage in relation to the count is not simply that of an industrious member of the middle class but also that of the artist, who under stands the ambivalent nature of aggressiveness and knows how to arouse and deflect it in order to achieve his political ends. This would be why Figaro defines politics using terms equally appropriate to act ing: because politics is quite literally an art, and because the natural leader is a consummate actor-artist. Political intrigue, Figaro does indeed argue, is not much. It involves only: feigning to ignore what one knows, to know what one ignores; to understand what one doesn't understand, to not understand

> SEXUAL IDENTIFI CATI ON AND THE SOCIAL what one does understand; above all, doing things beyond one's forces; making a big secret out of the fact that there isn't one; hid ing behind closed doors to sharpen pens, and appearing pro found when one is, as they say, only empty and hollow; playing a role well or badly. (act 3, scene 5, p. 251) Though in this speech Figaro speaks disdainfully of politics or intrigue, it is, as Suzanne affirms, his proper sphere (act 1, scene 1, p. 174) . It is a sphere in which role playing, defined in the same paradox ical terms as in Diderot's Paradoxe, is everything. The political artist, like the actor, can feign everything because he is nothing; he too is, in effect, his own antithesis. Politics and art thus merge in the figure of Figaro in much the same way as in Freud's description of the epic poet, the first individual of the leader-type to distinguish himself from the group of sons who participated in killing the primal father. And, just as the art of the epic poet is a means to realize specific political ends, so Figaro can be seen as using his art to bring about his marriage to Suzanne and cement his own position in society. In Figaro's case, the specific work of the artist is the festival planned for the evening of the folie joumee, the twenty-four hours in which the action of Figaro is supposed to take place. B ut given the art he must deploy to make the festival come to pass, his work comes to stand not only for the projected festival but also for the events leading up to it. At one point the count, in an expression of frustration and confusion, exclaims, "Are we performing a comedy?" (act 4, scene 6, p. 289). The implication is that he and the other characters are indeed performing a comedy, and that Figaro, thanks to his talent as actor and man of intrigue, has pretensions of being its director. As he tells Cherubin and Bazile: "We must rehearse boldly: let's not be like those actors who give their worst performance the day the critics are the most alert. We won't have another chance to do it better. Let's know our roles well today" (act 1, scene 10, p. zoo). These instructions could be interpreted narrowly in terms of the need to rehearse for the festival Figaro plans for the evening of the same day. But they also clearly relate to the events of the play as a whole. The alert critics are none other than the count and those who are in his pay; and Figaro and the other actors will not get another chance to improve their perfor mance, because life cannot be done over again. The epic poem must

FREUD AND BEAUMARC HAJS + 235 work its political effects the first time it is presented. If it does not, there will be no chance for a repeat performance. Though there are important formal parallels between Beaumar chais's Figaro and Freud's epic poet, the fate of art and the artist is not the same in Beaumarchais's play as in Freud's essay Group Psychology, or in Diderot's Paradoxe as interpreted by Lacoue-Labarthe. In the simplest terms, this is because, though the play ends hap pily from Figaro's perspective, it is not thanks to his art alone. The count himself proves to be no mean artist, and he succeeds if not in wholly determining the outcome, then at least in delaying it. But Figaro's most obvious rivals for political and artistic power are the women, in particular the countess and Suzanne. The count testifies to their comic and thus political talents in act 2, scene 19, when Suzanne emerges from the Countess's dressing room: "Madame . . . you know how to act very well . . . . We think we know something about politics, and we are only children. It is you, it is you, Madame, that the King ought to make his ambassador to London! Your sex must have carefully studied the art of feigning in order to do it so suc cessfully!" (p. 229). In the context in which they are uttered, these lines of course have an ironic significance: The countess was in reality not feigning at all but rather appeared guilty and frightened because she was under the impression that Cherubin was trapped in her dressing room, not Suzanne. But the final act of the play confirms the count's observations nonetheless. It shows that the countess is cap able of turning in an excellent performance as Suzanne, and Suzanne plays her role as countess equally well. Just as important, this last act has been "written' ' by the countess in that she has persuaded Suzanne to tell the count she will meet him in the garden despite Figaro's orders and has also decided that she herself will go to the gar den disguised as Suzanne. Suzanne puts it thus : "Madame, your pro ject is charming! I have just been thinking about it. It reconciles everything, ends everything, embraces everything" (act 2, scene 26, pp. 243-44) . Of course everything in the play does not come about in exactly the terms projected by the countess and Suzanne either. Figaro injects an element of his own when he sees through Suzanne's disguise and then proceeds to arouse her indignation and jealousy by proclaiming his love for "the Countess." The countess too learns a lesson from her husband when he confides to "Suzanne" that the countess has not


SEXUAL IDENTIFICATION A ND THE SOC IAL model tragedy, and of psychoanalysis, understood as the theory modeled after this model. Figaro can thus be seen as a modern tragedy, which achieves its effects through a generalization of the tragic principle of ambivalent identification, and which in an analogous manner implies the general ization of equality outside the realm of the mutual identification of the sons both with each other and with any form of natural paternal authority, no matter how ambivalent. The politics of psychoanalysis reaches its limit in such a context, not just because, as Freud would have it, psychoanalysis has no authority to impose its analyses and cures on society, but also because in the end it conceives of equality only in terms of a highly restrictive form of identification, because it cannot conceive of a non-Oedipal - that is, not necessarily masculine (or feminine) -form of authority, which would be rooted in the "other" rather than in the self.

"sufficiently studied the art of sustaining [his] inclination" for her (act 5, scene 7, p. 313) . The last act of the play thus identifies the characters with one another by showing that each is an actor-artist, and there fore each is by implication without a &xed identity. What underlies this generalization of art- and hence this democratization of political authority- is the revelation that the alternative itself of either paternal authority or maternal/narcissistic love is inadequate. Uneasy though the relationship between psychoanalysis and poli tics may be according to Freud, it is in principle possible to reconcile them if there is one relationship free of ambivalence and if there is an individual of the leader type, whether artist or psychoanalyst, who understands and knows how to exploit ambivalence. But by formulat ing its demand for equality in terms of a concept of identification that is as original as any form of object-choice, Beaumarchais's Figaro presents an even greater challenge to political authority, even to one that takes the form of art. It shows that there is no political or aes thetic authority that is not rooted in a concept of identification, and thus there is no form of authority that can underestimate the complex ity of identification- a complexity that is ultimately exemplified in each of the ambiguous characters in the play-without itself paying a severe price. It reveals that all authority is in some sense without authority, given the ambivalent role of identification on which it is based. The political problem is not that of finding a (substitute for) paternal or maternal authority but, rather, of conceiving of a form of equality based on the identification of the individuals of a group not with one another but rather with the other. Because it indicates the universality and primary nature of iden tification, Figaro also points out the limitations of the model of trag edy that underlies Freud's social psychology and psychoanalysis as a whole. If the identification between the father and the son is no longer privileged, then Oedipus (or Hamlet) is no longer the supreme tragedy. This does not mean that Figaro denies the existence of conflict between the father(s) and the son(s); quite the contrary. It means only that it is one form of conflict among others and that its claim to be the ultimate form of conflict is arbitrary. That Figaro has a serious aim- that is, that it is a comedy and not a tragedy, but also a comedy interrupted by tragedy- can be seen as a consequence of the way it places the conflict between the father and the son in a context that exceeds the explanatory power of Oedipus, understood as the

TRAGEDY A ND THE PROBLEM OF C ULTURE + 239 the concrete embodiment of the Greek ethical community, the very substance and essence of Greek existence. When Hegel embraces trag edy, and more specifi.cally, Antigone as models for philosophy itself, he thus simultaneously embraces (Greek) culture and history. They too cannot be mere objects for philosophy; philosophy must find itself in rather than merely opposing itself to them. But as we have also seen, in defining the Greek ethical community in terms of an opposition between abstract, Kantian morality and the real existence of an ethical-cultural community, Hegel sets up a dialec tic between reason and culture whose culmination lies in reason - or in philosophy. Given the interdependence of culture and tragedy in Hegel's reading of Antigone, his famous dictum that "art is for us a thing of the past" tells us as much about the relation of speculative philosophy to Greek culture as to (Greek) art. In neither case should it be read as the expression of crude nostalgia. The pastness of Greece, like the pastness of art, is as necessary from the philosophi cal standpoint as the organic wholeness that makes Greece a golden age of philosophy, art, and ethical life. The historical-conceptual movement through which Greek culture becomes a thing of the past is synonymous with the speculative dialectic itself, and thus without this movement there would be no modernity and no philosophy in Hegel's sense. The dialectic leads us to both art and culture, but it also leads beyond culture just as it leads beyond art. The project of embracing culture in order to transcend it is also evi dent in Hegel's reading of Le Neveu de Rameau, where Rameau's Nephew exemplifies the absolute alienation of cultural conscious ness, an alienation that is produced by a culture that has attained the highest stage of properly cultural development. As we have seen, however, such absolute alienation not only is the consequence and expression of cultural development; in Hegel's terms, it also leads immediately to the transcendence of culture. From this perspective, the dialectic between speculative reason and "the French" is identical to the dialectic between speculative reason and "the Greeks." In each case it is a question of coming to terms with or producing the rational principle of a particular culture and, thereby, transcending it. But in each case the given culture can be transcended not because reason has taken form in another culture but only because, in its ultimate form, reason transcends any specific culture, or-what amounts to the same thing- because reason institutes a universal culture.

Conclusion: + Tragedy and the Problem of Culture

In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche denounces the thinkers who see trag edy as little more than the occasion for the discharge of emotions or for the vindication of a moral vision of the universe, and he accuses them of having had "no experience of tragedy as a supreme art."1 The criticism expressed here reflects an essential aim of Nietzsche's essay: to free his own interpretation of tragedy from extra-aesthetic prob lems and frameworks, which in his view have traditionally prevented a genuine understanding of tragedy. And yet this same work also shows Nietzsche himself to be as concerned with extra-aesthetic issues as with aesthetics per se. What Nietzsche offers his reader is a philosophical interpretation not only of the tragic art of the Greeks but of Greek culture as well, as is evident in the manner in which he consistently defines the tragic and the Greek each in terms of the other. And when, in the '1\ttempt at Self-Criticism, " Nietzsche later rejects the "artists' metaphysics" lurking in the background of The Birth of Tragedy, he shows the importance that the cultural dimension of the problem of tragedy still has for him by expressing his regret that, because of its shortcomings, The Birth of Tragedy failed to do jus tice to what he calls the Greek problem (24) . In terms of the works of the figures discussed in the preceding pages, Nietzsche's views on the relation between culture and tragedy appear in no way exceptional . Only a reading itself narrowly commit ted to a restrictively aesthetic interpretation of tragedy could overlook the cultural dimension and implications of the interpretations and ver sions of tragedy offered in the works of these various theorists and playwrights. Hegel's reading of Antigone is an important and revealing case in point. We have seen that from his perspective Antigone is not only an aesthetic object in the usual sense but also, just as fundamentally, a cultural object. This does not mean that Hegel sees the play as a mere representation of Greek life : for him it is that life, that is, Antigone is

240 + CONCLUSION By finding in Greek culture an embodiment of the synthesis of rea son, art, and ethics to which philosophy itself aspires, Hegel, one could argue, roots philosophy itself, if only momentarily, l a specific culture and thus despite himself imposes a cultural limitation on phi losophy. It is true that the place and importance he gives to Greek cul ture in his philosophycal system make the universality of speculative reason problematic. But the role played by the Greeks in Hegel's phi losophy does not in and of itself necessarily indicate the total impris onment of philosophy in an ethnocentric perspective. Hegel embraces Greek culture because for him it exhibits the traits of a universal, ideal culture. In its organic wholeness, in the manner in which every thing in the culture is determined by the culture (that is, in the dynamic harmony it institutes between nature and culture, art and life, reason and practical activity), Hegel's version of classical Greece echoes prior attempts to imagine or find in history a golden age and a historical or mythical culture that could serve as a model for the understanding of culture generally. If Hegel is not the first thinker to conceive of the problem of culture in such terms, he is certainly not the last either. Claude Levi-Strauss's Tristes Tropiques provides a more recent example, even though, at first glance, it would be easy to see Levi-Strauss as an anti-Hegelian theo rist of culture. 2 Levi-Strauss's anthropology explicitly grows out of a cri tique of historical theories of culture, which in his view are derived from dialectical philosophy. In his celebrated polemic with Jean-Paul Sartre, Levi-Strauss rejects these theories and the work of those who accept them without question, on the grounds that by equating culture with history, they are in fact privileging a particular form of culture the European - as the only true one.3 Tristes tropiques recounts Levi Strauss's search for an ethnographic method that would make it possi ble to meet non-European cultures on their own terrain and describe them in terms that do not simply reflect the cultural presuppositions of the ethnographer. For him culture is not just an object among others for the theorist. It includes the theorist within its compass, and in this sense only a highly self-reflexive and self-critical anthropology is cap able of describing and analyzing other cultures. Important though his differences with Hegel are, Tristes tropiques nonetheless reveals what Levi-Strauss shares with him as well. Their affinity is particularly clear in Levi-Strauss's analysis of the culture of the Nambikwara tribe of Brazil. From Levi-Strauss's perspective,

TRAGEDY AND THE PROBLEM OF CULTURE + 241 Nambikwara society includes the fundamental elements in terms of which all cultures can be interpreted. Its stability, homogeneity, and humanity provide the foundation of not only Nambikwara culture and others with which its resemblance is obvious but implicitly even those cultures in which this foundation is overlaid with and obscured by technological innovation and historical transformation. And the same qualities that make Nambikwara culture the purest example of culture also make it a New World equivalent of the Golden Age of Greece, a Brazilian ethical community in which Levi-Strauss senses "an immense kindness, a profoundly carefree attitude, a naive and charming animal satisfaction and-binding these various feelings together- something which might be called the most truthful and moving expression of human love" (293) . The tone and character of his description of Nambikwara society are not all that recall Hegel's interpretation of the "immaculate world"4 of Greek culture, however. By showing that reason can recon cile itself with practical life while at the same time elevating it to the level of reason itself, Hegel's interpretation of Greek culture also serves as a justification of the absolute character of both reason and philosophy, which can now be seen to encompass culture and practi cal life within themselves. In a similar manner, by showing that the essential elements of all human life are found in Nambikwara culture, Levi-Strauss's interpretation of Nambikwara society legitimates the concept of culture itself, which is now seen as encompassing all other spheres and modes of existence. It also legitimates anthropology, as opposed to history or philosophy, as the form of theory that encom passes all others. Levi-Strauss's ethnography is radically different from- even opposed to - Hegel's theory of culture in that it reverses the hierarchy between reason and culture and makes culture the dom inant term. But the concept of culture and the corresponding science of anthropology that replace speculative philosophy are nonetheless fundamentally similar to it. The encompassing of the ethnographer by culture is now no longer a limitation of anthropology itself but the confirmation of the absolutely determining character of culture gener ally. Levi-Strauss is far from being a proponent of absolute reason, but he does implicitly bestow an absolute status on culture and in the process makes anthropology the only discipline that could legiti mately claim to provide absolute knowledge. Any number of other descriptions of culture that see it as all-

TRAGEDY AND THE PRO BLEM O F C ULTURE + 243 encompassing, as the fundamental phenomenon in terms of which other phenomena must be situated and analyzed, depend on simllar models of culture - or, one could say, similar myths of culture. In priv ileging a model (of) culture in terms of which all specific forms of cul ture can be understood and accounted for, such descriptions attempt to place themselves within but also, implicitly, beyond culture. Hegel's ethnocentrism, if it can be called that, is not radically differ ent from an ethnocentrism underlying certain forms of cultural criticism- even those that are decidedly anti-Eurocentric in their strat egies and goals -which do not involve a questioning of the idea that there can be a single concept of culture, which conceive of culture as a totality or assume that there can be a model for culture or a model culture. What makes the relationship between speculative philosophy and Greek culture particularly problematic, then, is not only that the cen tral place Hegel gives to the interpretation of Antigone permits us to sit uate speculative philosophy in terms of its interpretation of classical Greece. As long as the wholeness and oneness of (a) culture is sus tained, it is always possible to embrace culture and transcend it, to acknowledge one's roots in a specif:tc cultural context and to claim simultaneously to have attained universality. What poses a much graver problem from a Hegelian standpoint is that Greek culture should be radically and originally disrupted by tragic conflict, that its harmony should be revealed as mythical. When Hegel's interpreta tion of Antigone is read in a critical light, Greek culture appears at odds with itself, radically split by tensions that give it a dramatic com plexity and dynamic and rob it of any unifying theme or structure that might serve to def:tne its nature. The sublime or tragic dimension that Hegel imparts despite himself to his description of Greek culture undercuts both the attempt to situate theory within culture and the opposite (but in the terms of the dialectic, the essentially identical) attempt to place theory beyond culture. 5 There is no way to convert culture into an absolute ground without obscuring or reducing the tensions lurking within any given culture.. The conflict between "the law of the man" and "the law of the woman" uncovered by Hegel in his reading of Antigone is signif:tcant for exactly this reason . In cultural terms, it is an absolute conflict inso far as Antigone and Creon are both embodiments of the same culture or ethical community but also radically opposed. Hegel's concept of culture and ultimately perhaps all concepts of culture are problema tic, at least in part because of the way conflict between "the law of the woman" and "the law of the man" undercuts not just cultural har mony but even the very attempt to def:tne a given society or group of individuals in exclusively cultural terms. In reading Antigone with and against Hegel, what emerges is a sense of the mythical character not only of Hegel's Greece but of any culture - or any sex- that is viewed as being self-authentifying or self-def:tning. In the terms of my analysis, Hegel's Greece is not the only culture originally disrupted by tragic conflict . Neither France nor Germany emerges intact from their conflict over the tragic, which both divides and unites them. Each is engaged in the construction of a mythical antiquity that would p ermit it to def:tne, by contrast, its modernity, and in this sense each is involved in a struggle to create and shape its own identity. This struggle in and of itself indicates the problematic nature of that identity, the way in which neither French nor German culture can be seen as the true heir of Greek culture, but only as sites of recurrence for certain of the conflicts that make the concept of Greece and the concept of (Greek) culture themselves problematic. Equally important, each is engaged in a struggle with other modern European cultures for an aesthetic/cultural supremacy, and in this sense the Europe to which the France of Corneille, Racine, and Dide rot and the Germany of Hegel and Freud belong also appears as a problematic entity, where similarity does not necessarily produce har mony but, rather, conflict. What France and Germany have in com mon with Greece is not a community of values that would be founded in tragedy, in philosophy, or in anything else but, rather, a dishar mony and antagonism that excludes each from, as much as it makes each a part of, some larger or more original political-cultural entity. In my readings of modern French tragedies as in my readings of Hegelian and Freudian theory, society (or what I have also called, bor rowing from Hegel, the ethical community) is continually disrupted by the problematic nature of sexual identity and identif:tcation. The texts of Freud are especially signif:tcant from this perspective. In terms of the interpretation I have presented of Freud's work, it can be said that the imperatives of civilization and culture are constitutive of rather than external to individual psychology: this is one sense, and not the least important, of Freud's discovery that the unconscious is structured like a tragic drama. Moreover, as we have seen, it is not

244 + CONCLUSION only Oedipus whom Freud discovers in the unconscious, but Hamlet as well - not only sexual desire but also the repression or punishment of sexual desire by culture and civilization. Similarly, the individual is produced not by nature or biology but, rather, by a complex process of identification that links him or her both to others and to him- or her self, and the fundamental status that Freud gives to identification is another sign that for him the individual is defined by culture. There is no identity or sexuality outside culture, that is, outside the complex process of identification that creates, rather than stems from, individ ual identity. But an equally important implication of my reading of Freud is that our relationship to culture is no less uncomfortable or even painful as a result of its being rooted in the deepest layers of the psyche, in the instincts, if you will. The superego, which is harsh "even in normal times, " is no less demanding because it draws its force from the instincts rather than from external authorities alone. The conflict between the individual and culture is no less real or dramatic for being internal to the individual. The existence of this conflict is just what indicates the limitations of culture, the element or elements that, without being distinct from culture, cannot be contained by it or understood wholly in cultural terms. From Freud's perspective, the relationship between culture and what he calls the instincts is highly complex. But what limits its com plexity and makes it possible to produce a theory of that relationship is what Freud takes to be the fact of the relatively more marginal rela tion of women to culture. When he writes that women have no sense or only a weak sense of justice, that their relationship to authority is erotically tinged and masochistic, he effectively removes the feminine from the sphere of conflict between culture and instincts. Women, for Freud, participate in cultural life more spontaneously than men be cause their relatively weaker aggressive instinct is not as diffi.cult to overcome. But for the very same reason, they are also less well inte grated into cultural life, whose condition is precisely the overcoming of aggressiveness. Of course, Freud stresses that recognizing the deep-seated nature of the conflict between aggressiveness and civilization, between instincts and culture, will not provide mankind with any moral com fort. But he can nonetheless be seen to take comfort of a different sort from his analysis of this conflict. He is perhaps a moral pessimist, but

TRAGEDY AND THE PRO BLEM OF CULTURE + 245 he remains in many ways a theoretical optimist, confident that both culture and the instincts can be simultaneously theorized . In order to do this what is needed is that their dialectic be clarified in and through a description of the masculine path to civilization, and that the feminine, because of the way it blurs the distinction between instinct and culture, be marginalized in or excluded from the theory of culture. There is unquestionably a dialectic of culture and instinct in the work of Freud, and the ends of that dialectic, the idea that it has an end and a discernible direction, however negative, depend on the way his theory of culture excludes the feminine from the cultural. In terms of Freud's own theory, then, as well as in terms of the tra dition within which he situates it when he claims to have at last dis covered the source of the fascination Oedipus holds for us, "the feminine" represents a particularly sensitive term, the site where the dialectic of culture and what culture cannot contain within it stalls or is interrupted . The cultural significance of feminine masochism and, more broadly, of femininity, is just this : that there is no origin (and hence no end) for the dialectic of instinct and culture. That dialectic "begins" in and through a primary and ambivalent identification with others, a process that Freud himself with femininity, but which he reveals, despite himself, is the very foundation of mas culinity and culture as well. As I have shown in my analyses of Antig one, Camille, Eriphile, Manon, and Beaumarchais's women charac ters, the question of the feminine is critically significant insofar as these various feminine figures cannot be simply opposed to but, in stead, mirror the society and the masculine figures with which they fmd themselves in conflict . They are neither the other of (their) cul ture nor the same. It is important to keep in mind that no individual or group could legitimately claim to speak in a univocal manner as or for feminine figures such as these and certainly not for something like the femi nine in general, just as it would be impossible to speak as or for the masculine, the European, the Greek, the French, the German or, for that matter, the non-Western. To assume that one can speak for or as such cultural totalities is to fail to recognize the complexity of iden tification, that is, the ambivalence of all instances of it as well as the conflict between culture and instinct that any instance of identifica tion inevitably brings into play. Equally important, to privilege these or other figures of the same type, to make of them the absolute other

246 + CONCLUSION of a defmed culture or philosophy, is to make them into another ver sion of the same culture. Their critical signiflcance lies instead in their place being as much within the particular culture or philosophy they can be used to contest and undermine as outside it. But for just that reason, no one culture or concept of culture, no one philosophy alone can define them or determine their destiny.

+ Notes
Introduction: The Birth of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis
1. G. E. Lessing, Hamburg Dramaturgy, trans. Helen Zimmern (New York: Dover Publications, 1962), 179. 2. Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (London: Hogarth Press, 1953), ):149 3 Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Judgement, trans. James Creed Meredith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952), 151. 4 In the essays on Holderlin and Diderot which are the principal texts I
analyze here, as well as in several of his other essays, Lacoue-Labarthe's main theme is mimesis rather than identification. But in Heidegger: Art and Politics: The Fiction of the Political, trans. Chris Turner (Cambridge, Mass. : Basil Black well, 1990), Lacoue-Labarthe writes of the term identification that "it is ulti mately the only one we possess to designate what is at stake in the mimetic process" (8o). In Lacoue-Labarthe's terms, then, mimesis and identification are interchangeable, inasmuch as identification can be considered a form of mimesis; but, even more, identification is the term for the mimetic process which best indicates its nature and the critical problems that arise when one attempts to understand it.

Chapter 1 The Identities of Tragedy: Nietzsche, Benjamin, Freud

1. What is new in the new historicism- for example, what distinguishes it from traditional historicisms - is its emphasis on the discursive, that is, on a historical object that comprehends language as part of itself rather than being the referent of language, but which, as a result, loses what, from the perspec tive of a traditional historicism, is its objective character. 2. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and the Case of Wagner, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House, 1967), 95 3 Walter Benjamin, The Origin of German Tragic Drama, trans. John Osborne (London: NLB, 1977) . 4 Thus Nietzsche characterizes the Apollinian as not just illusion but delu sion when he writes that "it can even create the illusion that the Dionysian is really in the service of the Apollinian and capable of enhancing its effects- as if music were essentially the art of presenting an Apollinian content" (Birth o f Tragedy, 128).

Thus, according to Nietzsche, what Euripides destroyed was not just the

248 + NOTE S TO PAGES 22-26

Dionysian element of tragedy but the Apollinian as well, inasmuch as in destroying the one, he could not fail to destroy the other: "The intricate rela tion of the Apollinian and the Dionysian in tragedy may really be symbolized by a fraternal union of the two deities : Dionysus speaks the language of Apollo; and Apollo, fmally the language of Dionysus; and so the highest goal of tragedy and of all art is attained" (130). 6. See Paul de Man's reading of The B irth of Tragedy in "Genesis and Gene alogy (Nietzsche)," Allegories of Reading (New Haven, Conn . : Yale University Press, 1979), in which he undermines the distinctions between the terms of Nietzsche's principal oppositions and thus the absolute privilege given to the Dionysian. De Man argues that the "diachronic, successive structure of The Birth of Tragedy is in fact an illusion, " because "whenever an art form is being discussed, the three modes represented by Dionysos, Apollo, and Socrates are always simultaneously present and that it is impossible to mention one of them without at least implying the others" (85). 7 This is the argument of Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche et Ia Philosophic (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1967). Deleuze stresses the incommensura bility between Nietzsche's concept of Dionysian tragedy and traditional philo sophical concepts, especially the dialectic: "In general the dialectic is not a tragic vision of the world but, on the contrary, the death of tragedy, the replacement of the tragic vision with a theoretical conception (with Socrates), or better still with a Christian conception (with Hegel)" (21). In a subsequent passage he makes this same point even more forcefully and succinctly: "No compromise is possible between Hegel and Nietzsche" (223). 8. G . W. F. Hegel, Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, trans. T. M. Knox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974-75), 1196. 9 A similar perspective on Shakespeare can, of course, be found in the work of German critics beginning at least with G . E. Lessing's Hamburg Dramaturgy, trans. Helen Zimmern (New York: Dover Publications, 1962). Perhaps even more significant, it is still to be found in the work of Nietzsche, at least in the period of The Birth of Tragedy. In a note from 1870-71, he writes that "only the pri mal German spirit in Shakespeare, Bach, etc. , has emancipated itself from" the influence of the Romans on modern art (quoted by John Sallis, Crossings: Nie tzsche and the Space of Tragedy [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991], 139). This passage is important in terms not only of the way it casually assimilates Shakespeare and the German but also of the way it opposes the Greek and Ger man to the Latin (and hence also to the French). Sallis's book on Nietzsche and tragedy articulates a very interesting and at times persuasive interpretation of the place of The Birth of Tragedy in relation to Nietzsche's work as a whole and more generally in relation to Western metaphysics. What is most questionable about it is the iack of weight given to Nietzsche's own subsequent criticisms of his early work as expressing an artists' metaphysics. The passage quoted above and others of a similar type are interpeted by Sallis only in terms of the degree to which Nietzsche's concept of tragedy breaks with traditional philosophy (which Sallis defines in a fairly narrow sense). He thus reads them without attempting to offer a discussion of their cultural or political significance.

NOTES TO PAGE S 27-.32 + 249

10. Nietzsche writes that Kant and Schopenhauer lay the ground for a "tragic culture" because their work triumphs "over the optimism concealed in the essence of logic" (Birth of Tragedy, 112) . And in "the noblest intellectual efforts of Goethe, Schiller, and Wincklemann, " we see how "the German spirit has so far striven most resolutely to learn from the Greeks" (121). 11. Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (London: Hogarth Press, 1953), 21:115. All further citations of works by Freud refer to this edition. 12. Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, Ecce Homo, trans. Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale (New York: Random House, 1969), 243. Walter Kaufmann points out that Nietzsche similarly distances himself from the use of such terms as Aryan and Semitic and the concern with racial and cul tural purity they connote when he later writes in a note: "Contra Aryan and Semitic. Where races are mixed, there is the source of great cultures" (quoted in The Birth of Tragedy, 70-71, n . 5). 13. For example, in a fairly typical passage from his "Lettres sur Oedipe, " Voltaire writes condescendingly of the Greeks that "with all their intelligence and all their culture, [they] could not have a correct idea of the perfection of a [tragic] art that was only in its infancy" (Oeuvres completes de Voltaire [Paris: Garnier Freres, 1877], 1:26). Had the Greek playwrights been born in modern France, Voltaire goes on, "they would have perfected the art that they practi cally invented" (27). In Voltaire's "Discours sur Ia Tragedie" (which he addresses to an Englishman, Lord Bolingbroke), he writes in a similar vein of Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar: "I do not pretend to approve of all the barbarous irregularities of which it is full; it is nonetheless amazing that there are not more in a work composed in a century of ignorance, by a man who did not even know Latin and who had no other master than himself" (1:316-17). None theless, Voltaire himself, it is worth recalling, was no vulgar chauvinist, either in his work as a whole or even in his prefaces to his tragedies. As he writes in the "Discours historique et critique" published with Don Pedre: "Those who lie . . . to humanity are often still animated by the stupidity of national rivalry. . . . Today, when Europe is divided among so many powers that balance each other; when so many peoples have their great men in every genre, whoever wants to flatter his country too much runs the risk of displeas ing the others, if by chance he is read by them, and ought not to expect appre ciation [even] from his own countrymen" (6:252). 14. The philosophers and theorists who fall within this general category and who will be treated in the course of this study are Hegel, Lessing, and, in a somewhat different sense Freud, Auerbach, and even Philippe Lacoue Labarthe, who has taken up once again, but this time critically, the "Ger man" investigation of the problem of art. 15. Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, 18:105. 16. Jean Starobinski, "Hamlet et Oedipe, " La Relation critique (Paris: Galli mard, 1970). This point is more fully developed in chapter 4.

250 + NOTE S TO PAG E S 39-54 Chapter 2 Philosophical Identification, Tragedy, and the Sublime: Hegel, Kant, and Antigone
1. G. W. F. Hegel, Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, trans. T. M. Knox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974-75), 13. 2. Martin Heidegger, "The Origin of the Work of Art, " Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 79 3 Jacques Derrida, Glas (Paris: Galilee, 1974), 171. 4 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and the Case of Wagner, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House, 1967), 120-21. 5 A. W. Schlegel, Course of Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature, trans. John Black (New York: AMS Press, 1965). 6. Jean-Luc Nancy, Le Discours de la syncope: 1. Logodaedalus (Paris: Aubier Flammarion, 1976), 36. 7 Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Judgement, trans. James Creed Meredith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952), 151. 8. Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (London: Hogarth Press, 1953), 4=149 9 See especially Hannah Arendt, Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy, ed. Ronald Beiner (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982); Jean-Franois Lyotard, I.;Enthousiasme: La Critique kantienne de l'histoire (Paris: Galilee, 1\)86). 10. Jean Hyppolite, Genese et structure de la Phenomenologie de l'esprit de Hegel (Paris: Aubier, 1946), 313. 11. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (Garden City, N. Y. : Doubleday, 1966), 89.

NOTES TO PAGE S 55-66 + 251

from them assured his possession of his method" (176). Jean Hyppolite's Genese et structure de la Phenomenologie de I'esprit de Hegel and, more particularly, his Intro duction a Ia philosophie de l'histoire de Hegel (Paris: Seuil, 1983) also devote much attention to Hegel's conceptions of destiny and tragedy and argue that the rec onciliation that is to be effected by the movement of history is effected first in Hegel's work through his interpretation of the tragic. Jacques Derrida's Glas, though not centrally concerned with the problem of tragedy, presents a highly detailed and complex assessment of the place of Hegel's interpretation of Anti gone in his philosophy as a whole. Finally, there is Peter Szondi's essay "The Notion of the Tragic in Schelling, Holderlin, and Hegel, " On T extual Understanding and Other Essays, trans. Harvey Mendelsohn (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), which I shall discuss later in the chapter. 17. Hegel, Article de lena sur le droit nature/, quoted in Hyppolite, Genese et


12. Gilles Deleuze, Kant's Critical Philosophy: The Doctrine of the Faculties, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), viii. 13. Martin Heidegger, Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, trans. James S. Churchill (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1962), 167. 14 As Heidegger puts it, in the frrs t edition, Kant brought the possibility of metaphysics before an abyss, but, in the second edition, he drew back from it (Kant, 173) . 15. "Only the concept of freedom, " Kant asserts in the Second Critique, "allows us to fmd the unconditioned for the conditioned and the intelligible for the sensuous without going outside ourselves" ( Critique of Practical Reason, trans. Lewis Beck White [Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1956], 109) . In this pas sage, Kant makes it clear that the unconditioned necessity is indeed located not only outside reason but within it as well . 16. The relation between Hegel's interpretation of tragedy and his philosophy as a whole has been treated by several of his most distinguished modern com mentators. Already in 1940, P. Bertrand argued, in "Le Sens du tragique et du destin dans la dialectique hegelienne," Revue de metaphysique et de morale 47 (1940), that "it is therefore no exaggeration to affirm that, from 1799 on, Hegel's meditation on the Tragic and Destiny and the dialectical movement that results

Oxford University Press, 1977), 280. 19. H. R. Jauss, "Dialogique et dialectique," Revue de metaphysique et de morale 89, no. 2 (April-June 1984): 172. 20. G. W. F. Hegel, Philosophy of Right, trans. T. M. Knox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967), 115. 21. In The Tragic Vision (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 196o), Mur ray Krieger introduces his analyses of several masters of modern prose fiction (Gide, Malraux, Camus, Dostoevsky, Mann, Kafka, Conrad, and Melville) with a discussion of Hegel's conception of tragedy as embodied in the Aesthe tics . Krieger's general strategy stems from a critique of Hegel's concept of the tragic in terms of what he calls its "attempt to create a metaphysical equiva lent for the unity of the Greek world, " an attempt that in Krieger's view accounts for Hegel's stress on "the conclusive power of tragedy" and "his insistence on the absoluteness, the wholeness, the indivisibility" of the ethi cal substance (5). Krieger responds to this Hegelian tragic vision with one that takes the "subversive tragic hero" as its focus and sees him as "fulf:tlling a proper human function and even a proper human obligation in standing with his integrity as an individual outside the universal" (6-7) . 22. In Speculum de /'autre femme (Paris: Minuit, 1974), Luce Irigaray says of this same passage that the relationship between the brother and the sister is "an ideal settlement [departagement], in which the (ethical) substance of matri archy and patriarchy would coexist, in an untroubled peace and a relation ship without desire. The war between the sexes would not take place. But this moment, of course, is mythical and this Hegelian dream is already the effect of a dialectic produced by patriarchy" (269) . For Irigaray, a war between the sexes is inevitable. Moreover, she goes on to imply that that war stems from the absolute nature of the difference beween the sexes, when she writes of bisexuality that it works only with the patriarchical dialectic to assure "the connection and the passage one into the other of each sex" (269) . In contrast, I argue that conflict between the sexes has its basis in (a certain) bisexuality, but also that that bisexuality prevents the war of which Irigaray writes from

structure de Ia Phenomenologie de /'esprit de Hegel, 2:330. 18. G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford:

252 + NOTE S TO PAGES 72-92

being total- since the conflict in question is as much within each sex as between them.

NOTE S TO PAGES 93-98 + 253

13. "As soon as Rodrigue provides Chimene with the opportunity to 'pun ish' him [for the murder of her father], her aim of punishing him changes immediately into a desire for legal justice, which postpones its execu tion. . . . All the arguments of Chimene can be brought back, in fact, to one: she wants to obtain through the mediation of others . . . what the Master [that is, the authentic Corneillean hero] must take on himself alone. We are brought back to a behaviour typical of bad faith" (Doubrovsky, Corneille, 111). 14. Doubrovsky's other major theoretical reference in Corneille is, of course, Hegel, in particular his "dialectic of master and slave." That Corneille's texts lend themselves so well to a Hegelian reading is accepted by Doubrovsky as a natural consequence of their analogous philosophical positions. As a result, he never discusses the possibility that the convergence between Hegel and Cor neille is historical in nature and therefore as much a consequence of what Hegel owes to tragedy as of what Corneille achieved as a thinker of subjectivity. 15. Thus Doubrovsky writes that in the case of Rodrigue, we see that "the conversion of the animal 'I' into the heroic 'I' consecrates the advent of the aristocratic ethic, which at last overcomes nature" (Corneille, 113).

Chapter 3 The Interrupted Dialectic of Modern Tragedy: Hegel, Corneille, and the Feminine Challenge to Aufhebung
1. G. W. F. Hegel, Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, trans. T. M. Knox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974-75), 605. 2. Certainly, Hegel himself does not acknowledge his departure from Aris totle but instead takes pains to portray his philosophy of fme art as consistent with the Poetics. His "official" posture is identical to that of Lessing. Hegel too sees himself as part of and perhaps even as the preeminent figure in a return to Aristotle, from whose true principles the French, in particular, have strayed. And yet the instance mentioned above is not the only one in which he appears to chose a rather different path from that taken in the Poetics. In particular, one could argue that Hegel never successfully brings his criticism of theories of art which are based on the affect associated with the work of art into line with his professed posture of fidelity to Aristotle's fundamental prin ciples. (Among such theories one would have to classify the Poetics, given the central nature of the notion of catharsis in Aristotle's analysis of tragedy, and, to be sure, Kant's Critique of Judgment.) Instead, Hegel argues unconvincingly that Aristotle was not really talking about "mere feelings of pity and fear" but instead about "the nature of the subject-matter by which its artistic appear ance is to purify these feelings" (Aesthetics, 1197). 3 In Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 8o. 4 In Hegel's lexicon this term does not refer to pity or self-pity and does not have the negative connotation it commonly has in contemporary usage. It means, rather, the tragic passion that animates a given character or characters. 5 G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 406-'7. 6. Pierre Corneille, Le Cid, Theatre complet (Paris: Garnier, 1971), 1:725. 7 Pierre Corneille, "Discours de la tragedie, " Theatre complet, 1:36. 8. This is a paraphrase of Hegel's characterization of the heroes and heroines of Greek tragedy: "the Greek, with his plasiticty of consciousness, takes responsibility for what he has done as an individual and does not cut his purely subjective self-consciousness apart from what is objectively the case" (Aesthetics, 1224). 9. Pierre Corneille, Oedipe, Oeuvres completes (Paris: Seuil, 1963), ll. 1149-58, p. 580. 10. F. W. J. Schelling, The Philosophy of Art, trans. Douglas W. Stott (Min neapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), 254. n. Pierre Corneille, Horace, Theatre complet, 1:830 . 12. See Serge Doubrovsky, Corneille ou Ia dialectique du heros (Paris: Galli mard, 1963), 107-19.

Chapter 4 The Uneasy Identiflcation of Psychoanalysis and Tragedy: Freud and Racine
1. F. W. J. Schelling, The Philosophy of Art, trans. Douglas W. Stott (Min neapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), 253. 2. In the Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, trans. T. M. Knox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974-75), G. W. F. Hegel devotes little attention to the prob lem of tragic guilt, which he treats almost exclusively in terms of the plasticity of the heroes of (ancient) tragedy, who do not distinguish between their responsibility in relation to unconsciously and consciously performed deeds (see especially p. 1214) . But while it is doubtless of some significance that Hegel has recourse to the term unconscious in order to describe the guilt of the tragic Greek heroes, his explicit position - at least in an early text in which he addresses the question of tragic guilt and its irrational nature more squarely appears to be much closer to that of Schelling: "Tragedy resides in the fact that the moral nature, in order not to become entangled with its inorganic nature, separates the latter from itself as a fate, and places it over against itself; and through the recognition of this fate in the course of the battle, it is reconciled with the divine being, which is the unity of both" (Hegel, "Uber die wissen schaftlichen Behandlungen des Naturrechts, seine Stelle in der praktischen Philosophie, und sein Verhaltnis zu den positiven Rechtswissenschaften, " extual Understanding quoted in Peter Szondi, "The Notion of the Tragic, " On T and Other Essays, trans. Harvey Mendelsohn [Minneapolis: University of Min nesota Press], 49). For Hegel too, tragic guilt exemplifies the tension between freedom and necessity and represents a dialectical reconciliation of that ten sion in which necessity is respected, but not at the expense of freedom. 3 Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, The Standard Edition of the

..:54 + N OTES TO PAG E S 100-103

Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (London: Hogarth Press, 1953), 4:262. All further citations of works by Freud refer to this edition. 4 "Oedipus and Hamlet are the mediating images between Freud's past

NOTE S TO PAGE S 103-110 + 255

not write it with a view to publication), but because he probably 'forgot' its very existence, and because he, in any case, divested himself of it. This circum stance is sufficiently unusual, if it is not unique, to attract attention, even to intrigue" (Lacoue-Labarthe, "La Scene est primitive, " 187). 9 "Here the precondition of enjoyment is that the spectator should him self be a neurotic, for it is only such people who can derive pleasure instead of aversion from the revelation and the more or less conscious recognition of a repressed impulse" (Freud, "Psychopathic Characters, " 7:308-9) . 10. Thus it comes as something of a surprise when Jacques Lac an, in his own interpretation of Hamlet, "Desire and the Interpretation of Desire in Hamlet" (Y ale French Studies nos. 55-56 [1977]), remarks that he knows of no commentator who has noted the importance of the theme of mourning in Hamlet (39). 11. In his Aesthetic Theory, trans. C. Lehnhardt (New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984), Theodor W. Adorno contrasts Freud's and Kant's aesthe tics. He stresses that Freud's is focused on wish fulfillment and is therefore "interested," in Kant's terms, whereas Kantian aesthetics, based on the con cept of the "disinterestedness" of aesthetic pleasure, appears from a Freudian perspective as a "castrated hedonism" (18). Adorno also notes, however, that the two thinkers have something important in common- an "underlying sub jective orientation" (15-16) . Unlike Adorno, I would lay greater stress on the affinity between Kant and Freud, but, like him, I see that affinity in terms of the "subjective orientation" of each- if by that one means their common con cern with the ambivalent and in part painful process of identification which each indicates is constitutive of the subject. 12. In Pouvoirs de l'horreur (Paris: Seuil, 198o), Julia Kristeva devotes a por tion of her analysis to a concept of primary repression that is for her an essen tial component of what she calls the abject, which she defines as "the 'object' of primary repression" (2o) . In Kristeva's terms, the primary form of repres sion that has the abject as its "object" presupposes no subject or object in the usual sense. She thus describes it as "the capacity of the speaking being, always already inhabited by the Other, to divide, reject, repeat. Without there being a division, a separation, a subject/object already constituted" (2o). But though Kristeva argues that primary repression presupposes no subject or object, it does, in her view, have a single cause, which she asserts lies in "maternal anxiety, which is incapable of satisfying itself in the ambiant sym bolic" (2o). Thus, the primary form of repression finds its purest expression in the relation of the mother to her child: "it is necessary to recognize that this narcissistic topology is supported by nothing other, in psychosomatic reality, than by the mother-child dyad" (77). 13. Jacques Lacan, "Introduction au commentaire de Jean Hyppolite sur Ia 'Verneinung' de Freud," and Jean Hyppolite, "Commentaire parle sur la 'Ver neinung' de Freud, " both in Jacques Lacan, Ecrits (Paris: Seuil, 1966). 14. The Standard Edition translation of the same passage is as follows : "Negation is a way of taking cognizance of what is repressed, indeed, it is already a lifting of the repression, though not, of course, an acceptance of what is repressed" ("Negation," 19:235-36) .

and his patient: they are the guarantees of a common language. This series of recognitions thus imposes itself as constitutive of the path of analytic thought itself and not as an example of its appplication to an exterior domain" (Jean Starobinski, "Hamlet et Oedipe, " La Relation critique [Paris: Gallimard, 1970], 315) . 5 This question is addressed by Jean-Fran<;ois Lyotard in his essay "Oedipe Juif": "What is there in Hamlet that is not in Oedipus? There is non fulfillment [inaccomplissement] . One can see it as the psychological dimension of neurosis or the tragic dimension of thought. But it has an altogether different dimension. Oedipus fulfills the destiny of his desire; the destiny of Hamlet is the non-fulfillment of desire: this chiasmus is the one implied between what is Greek and what is Jewish, between the tragic and the ethi cal" (Lyotard, "Oedipe Juif, " Derive il partir de Marx et Freud (Paris: Union Generale d'Editions, 1973], 175). Lyotard's extremely complex interpretation of Freud's relation to Oedipus and Hamlet deserves to be considered both in its own right and in terms of its links to Lyotard's work as a whole. But with regard to the more immediate concerns of my own reading of Freud, what interests me is not so much the alternative Lyotard proposes between Oedi pus, the Greek, and the tragic, on the one hand, and Hamlet, the ethical, and the Jewish on the other, but rather the "still (or already) Jewish" and "still (or already) ethical" qualities of the Greek and the tragic- in other words, the way in which Freud's work indirectly suggests that from the standpoint of psycholanalysis, Hamlet exemplifies the nature of the unconscious and there fore of the tragic as well as and perhaps even better than Oedipus. 6 . This article is the focus of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe's analysis of Freud and his relation to tragedy in "La Scene est primitive, " Le Sujet de Ia philoso phie (Paris: Aubier-Flammarion, 1979), an essay to which my own analysis is particularly indebted. 7. Of course, Freud's interpretation of Oedipus Rex in The Interpretation of Dreams already raises the issue of repression. He writes that "we shrink back from [the figure of Oedipus] with the whole force of the repression by which those [incestuous] wishes have since (childhood] been held down within us" (Interpretation of Dreams, 4:263). But this repression is external to the spectator's experience of the play and is not related by Freud to the "pro found and universal power to move" of the Oedipus legend, both of which are presented as being rooted in the pleasure afforded by the positive expres sion the play and legend give to unconscious wishes. 8. According to his associate Max Graf, Freud wrote "Psychopathic Charac ters" in 1904; but he himself never published it. It was first published by Graf in 1942 in the Psychoanalytic Quarterly . Reflecting on the historical circum stances of the (non)publication of this brief text, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe remarks that it "represents an enigma, among all [Freud's] posthumous texts, not only because Freud did not publish it (or did not want to publish it, or did

256 + NOTE S TO PAGES 112-121

15. This explicit admiration of and even fascination with art as well as the more complex theoretical ambiguities underlying it are the subject of Sarah Kofman, The Childhood of Art, trans . Winifred Woodhull (New York: Colum bia University Press, 1988). 16. Roland B arthes, Sur Racine (Paris : Seuil, 1963), 9-10. 17. Andre Green, Un Oeil en trap: I.e Complexe d'Oedipe dans Ia tragedie (Paris: Minuit, 1969), 195. 18. Charles Mauron, Llnconscient dans /'oeuvre et /a vie de Racine (Gap: Puh lication des Annales de la Faculte des lettres d'Aix-en-Provence, 1957), 21. 19. Jean Racine, Iphigenie, Oeuvres completes de Racine (Paris: Gallimard, 1950), 671. All further citations of works by Racine refer to this edition. 20. A practice that, as we have seen, contrasts markedly with that of Cor neille, who, while also claiming to remain faithful to the ancients, nonethe less diverges openly from Aristotle on this point ("Discours de la tragedie, " ThN itre complet (Paris: Garnier, 1971], 1:36-}8). 21. Hegel criticizes Phedre on the same grounds he criticized Rodrigue: because of a lack of firmness of character, which in her case manifests itself in the fact that the responsibility for her actions is not hers alone but is shared with Oenone: "It is equally contrary to individual decision if a chief character in whom the power of a 'pathos' stirs and works is himself determined and talked over by a subordinate figure, and now can shift the blame from himself on to another - as e.g., Phedre in Racine's [play] is talked over by O enone" (Aes thetics, 241). In the case of Racine, as in the case of Corneille, Hegel shows him self to be unsympathetic to what is most modern in his portrayal of character. 22. There is an obvious convergence here between two conceptions of guilt. One would be derived from the Greeks and their tragedies. The other would be derived if not from Jansenism per se, then from a "radical" Jansen ism, which would stress not so much the wholesale refusal of the world by the tragic hero/Christian, as Lucien Goldmann would have it (I.e Dieu cache [Paris: Gallimard, 1955]). Rather, it would stress the guilt of even the elected few, who, like those who are condemned, have done nothing themselves to merit their election but owe it to God alone and, in this sense, are no more innocent than those who are condemned. Clearly these two Racines -the one pagan and the other Christian- are not contradictory but, rather, comple mentary. Though one appears to belong to a historical period of longer dura tion, stretching from Greek antiquity to the seventeenth century, and the other appears to belong to a more limited historical period, beginning with the emergence of Jansenist theology in France, it would be an oversimplifica tion to separate them too radically. Hegel, for example, consistently treats Christianity as the Aufhebung of Greek culture, and in this sense it is already immanent in Greek culture as the solution to its antinomies. But one could argue, borrowing Hegel's terms while reversing his conclusions, that in terms of its conception of the ineluctability of guilt, a certain form of Jansenism is the sign of the persistence of the tragic and the Greek within Christianity. 23. In "The Economic Problem of Masochism, " Freud writes that "a sense of guilt, too, finds expression in the manifest content of masochistic phanta-

NOTES TO PAG ES 122-123 + 257

sies; the subject assumes that he has committed some crime (the nature of which is left indefinite) which is to be expiated by all these painful and tor menting procedures. This looks like a superficial rationalization of the maso chistic subject-matter, but behind it there lies a connection with infantile masturbation" (14:162). In "The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex, " this sense of guilt related to infantile masturbation becomes the castration com plex whose dissolution results in the institution of the superego (14:176) 24. Here again, however, though the logic of his own description of the superego appears to lead toward a notion of primary guilt, Freudian theory can be seen resisting such a notion as well as calling for it. The resistance is evident in the conviction, expressed with greatest clarity in T otem and T aboo and reiterated in Civilization and Its Discontents, that every individual carries with him, as part of the biological substratum upon which his psyche is grafted, a kind of genetic memory of the original sin of humanity-the murder of the primal father by his sons. 25. In terms of Racine's plays, the primary nature of guilt would thus illuminate - or be illuminated by- the manner in which guilt and the erotic are continually intertwined, to the extent that punishment and erotic fulfill ment become virtually indistinguishable. One of the most spectacular instances of such contamination of the erotic and the ethical occurs when Phedre's declaration of love is rejected by Hippolyte, and she responds by attempting to take her own life, and hence punish herself, with his sword. But Eriphile's death is equally relevant to this question. It too has both an (auto)erotic and ethical dimension, inasmuch as it can be seen both as (self-)punishment for her crimes against Iphigenie and as the satsifaction of the masochism that makes her love her abductor, Achille. 26. This does not mean, of course, that the psyche as a whole is fundamen tally unconcerned with reality according to psychoanalysis. As Jean La planche and J.-B. Pontalis argue in their Vocabulaire de Ia psychanalyse (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1967), 138-42, the concept of "reality test ing, " though not fully determined in Freud's psychoanalytic theory, nonethe less deary indicates his intent to give an account of the realism of the psyche, albeit one that does not negate the complexity and specificity of its structure. In "The Ego and the Id," Freud calls reality testing one of the important func tions with which the ego is entrusted. The psyche has reality inscribed within it, in the figure of the ego, which then enlists reality on its side in its conflicts with the id and superego. But because the ego is only one character among others on the psychic stage, reality appears as a contested value rather than something that is self-evident and pre-given. The situation of the psychoan alyst or theorist would implicitly be analogous to that of the ego. As Sam Weber has put it, psycholanalysis is not a science of observation, or, rather, psychoanalysis is the "science" that reveals that observation is "a function of conflictual desires" (The Legend of Freud [Minneapolis: University of Minne sota Press, 1982], 25). 27. Once the superego has been instituted, Freud writes, "the distinc tion . . . between doing something bad and wishing to do it disappears en. .

258 + NOTE S TO PAGE S 124-133

tirely, since nothing can be hidden from the super-ego, not even thoughts"

N OTES TO PAGE S 133-142 + 259

realism retains even today an "active, critical side" that can be used "to under mine the dominant ideologies and philosophical systems of the various histor ical periods treated [in Mimesis], to show the historical roots of all philosophical and esthetic systems, and to argue for historical diversity." Car roll also argues, however, that the critical side of Mimesis is quickly replaced "with another system." This other system reveals an Auerbach "intent on reducing the complexity of the real to the fullness of the present" and deny ing the fundamental complexity of history, a complexity that Carroll argues can be seen in historicism's own "repeated attempts to reconstruct after the fact a present which necessarily escapes it" (12). 3. G. W. F. Hegel, Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, trans. T. M. Knox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), 44-46. 4 Auerbach writes in the epilogue that the character of Mimesis was deter mined to an important extent by the (arbitrary) limitations of the libraries of wartime Istanbul (492). He also stresses that "a systematic and complete his tory of realism would not only have been impossible, it would not have served my purpose." Mimesis, he continues, is not based on a preconceived system, but rather, its purpose assumed form "only as I went along" and was "guided only by the texts themselves, " the great majority of which "were cho sen at random on the basis of accidental acquaintance and personal prefer ence" (491) . 5. Martin Heidegger, "The Origin of the Work of Art, " Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 27. 6. Thus "Voltaire falsifies reality by an extreme simplification of the causes of events, " so that his works are at bottom "propaganda pieces for the Enlight enment" (Auerbach, Mimesis, 36o) . In Schiller's Miller the Musician "it is pre cisely the strong and bold coloration of the revolutionary tendency which impairs the genuine character of the realism" (388) . In the case of Goethe, his attitudes and political "utterances interest us in the present connection not so much immediately in that they illustrate Goethe's conservative, aristocratic, and anti-revolutionary views, but rather mediately because they explain how Goethe's views prevented him from grasping revolutionary occurrences with the genetico-realistic-sensory method peculiar to him on other occasions"

(Civilization and Its Discontents, 21:125). 28. As G. E. Lessing puts it in his Hamburg Dramaturgy, trans. Helen Zim mern (New York: Dover Publications, 1962): "It is true it is [the French] who
boast of most obedience to rules, but it is they also who give to these rules such extension that it scarce repays the labour to bring them forward as rules; or else regard them in such a left-handed and forced manner, that it generally offends more to see them observed thus instead of not at all" (134). 29. "The unalterability of an exclusive locality for a specific action is one of those rigid rules which the French especially have drawn from Greek tragedy and the remarks of Aristotle. But Aristotle only says of tragedy that the dura tion of the action should not normally exceed one day, and he does not touch at all on the unity of place which even the Greek poets did not abide by in the strict French sense" (Hegel, Aesthetics, 1164). 30. Barthes describes the Oedipal situation, albeit without naming it, in the terms Freud uses to characterize it in T otem and Taboo: "Incest, rivalry be tween brothers, the murder of the father, the rebellion of the sons, these are the fundamental themes of Racinian theater" (Barthes, Sur Racine, 21). 31. Goldmann notes this same characteristic of Racine's plays but interprets it from the standpoint of the predominance in them of the theme of passion: "If, with the exception of Titus, the tragic characters of his plays are women, it is because passion is an important element of their humanity, and because the seventeenth century would have accepted this only with difficulty in a masculine character" (Le Dieu cache, 352) . 32 A typical example from the early eighteenth century can be found in !'abbe Prevost's Memoires et avantures d'un homme de qualite, Oeuvres completes (Paris: Leblanc, 1810-16), 1:394. Prevost puts the criticism of Racine in the mouth of a Spaniard, who calls Racine a "pleureux" and who quite naturally admires Corneille.

33 "Whereas in boys the Oedipus complex is destroyed by the castra tion complex, in girls it is made possible and led up to by the castration complex . . . . The differ
ence between the sexual development of males and females at the stage we have been considering is an intelligible consequence of the anatomical distinc tion between their genitals and of the psychical situation involved in it; it cor responds to the difference between a castration that has been carried out and one that has merely been threatened" (Freud, "Some Psychical Conse quences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes, " 19:256-57) .

(395). 7. This is true not just of Manon Lescaut and eighteenth-century French lit
erature but of the age of Goethe as well, an age in which "the combination of a forceful realism with a tragic conception of the problems of the age simply does not occur. This is the more striking and, if you will, the more paradox ical since it was precisely the German intellectual development during the sec ond half of the eighteenth century which laid the aesthetic foundation of modern realism. I refer to what is currently known as Historism" (Auerbach,

Chapter 5 The Sexual Interruption of the Real: Auerbach and Manon Lescaut
1. Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature (Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1957), 391. 2. See David Carroll, "Mimesis Reconsidered: Literature/History/Ideology, " Diacritics 5, no. 2 (Summer 1975). Carroll argues that Auerbach's theory of

Mimesis, 391) . 8. Hegel, of course, never refers to Manon Lescaut in his Aesthetics. Nonethe
less, certain of the broad lines of his assessment of the "intermediate genres" are strikingly similar to Auerbach's. For Hegel, as for Auerbach, the intermed iate genres represent an attempt to reconcile comedy and tragedy. Thus, just

260 + NOTE S TO PAG ES 143-144

as they are very close in their aim to that of modern tragic realism for Auer bach, so for Hegel they are very close to the aim of the philosophy of nne art, in that they share in its dialectical character. But Hegel is also like Auerbach in considering that the intermediate genres, and especially the drama, repre sent something of a literary dead end: "In the center between tragedy and comedy there is a third chief genre of dramatic poetry which yet is of less strik ing importance, despite the fact that it attempts to reconcile the difference between tragedy and comedy: or at least, instead of being isolated in sheer opposition to one another, these two sides meet in it and form a concrete whole . . . . But on the whole the boundary lines of this intermediate kind of dramatic poetry are less fum than those of tragedy and comedy. Moreover this kind almost runs the risk of departing from the genuine type of drama altogether or of lapsing into prose" (Hegel, Aesthetics, 1202-4) . 9 Thus i t comes a s n o surpise, given his relatively strong commitment to modernity, that Corneille should himself have transgressed the rules govern ing the separation of styles with the creation of the heroic comedy and enter tained the project of creating an additional genre that would give everyday subjects the same serious treatment afforded by tragedy to kings and princes (see Corneille, letter to De Zuylichem, which serves as a preface to his Don Sanche dragon, Oeuvres completes [Paris: Seuil, 1963], 495-97). In defending the need for such a new genre, he argues that modern playwrights could pro duce a form of drama even more faithful to the imperative that tragedy move us by the arousal of pity and fear, because characters who are like us are more likely to produce the required tragic emotions in us. Thus, while Lessing was to see Corneille as the evil genius of modern drama, Lessing's central idea ' concerning the drama is formulated by Corneille in precisely the same terms Lessing will use. 10. Antoine-Franois Prevost d'Exiles, Manon Lescaut (Paris: Garnier Flammarion, 1967), 130. 11. Antoine-Franois Prevost d'Exiles, Memoires et avantures d'un homme de qualite, Oeuvres completes (Paris: Leblanc, 1810-16), 1: 105. 12. In Reading the Romantic Heroine (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1985), Leslie Rabine argues that Prevost's novel should not be read in terms of the conventions of literary realism, an important component of which is the presupposition that the reader can discover the individuality of each character. This is true in the case of des Grieux since, according to Rabine, "in a completely realist text des Grieux's behavior would not remain so inexplicable as it does to Renoncourt in Manon Lescaut" (6o). But Rabine goes on to argue that it is even more crucial to set aside the "realist" concep tion of character when analyzing the figure of Manon: "However much Manon's discourse is contained in des Grieux's discourse like quotations in another writer's text, her own subtext is not totally repressed by his super text. Bringing it out needs an interpretation not based on a realist reading that asks: Who is the real Manon behind the paper? It needs instead a symptoma tic reading which seeks to nnd the 'not said' in what is both repressed and indirectly implied by the language of the text" (72).

NOTES TO PAGE S 148-160 + 261

13. Voltaire, "Discours sur Ia tragedie, " Oeuvres completes de Voltaire (Paris: Garnier Freres, 1877), 2:323. 14. "Never in [Racine's] plays is love an episodic passion: it is the founda tion of all his plays. It is their principal interest. It is the most theatrical of pas sions, the most fertile in sentiments, the most varied. It must be the soul of a theatrical work or be banished entirely. If love is not tragic, it is insipid; and if it is tragic, it must reign alone. It is not made for second place. It is Rotrou, it is even the great Corneille, it must be confessed, who, in creating our the ater, almost always disfigured it by these made-to-order love affairs, by these amorous intrigues that, not involving true passions, are not worthy of the the ater:' Voltaire, "Lettre a M. Scipion Maffei, " Oeuvres completes, 4 : 182. 15. Voltaire, "Lettre a Mademoiselle Clairon, " Oeuvres completes, 4:9. 16. A. W. Schlegel, "Comparaison entre Ia Phedre de Racine et celle d'Euripide, " Siimmtliche Werke (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 1972), vol. 14 . 17. Jean Racine, Berenice, Oeuvres completes de Racine (Paris : Gallimard, 1950), act 2, scene 2, p. 485. 18. This sociology of the feminine condition, which is implict in Manon Les caut, is explicitly spelled out in Prevost's Memoires d'un honnete homme, Oeuvres completes, vol. 33 19. Antoine-Franois Prevost d'Exiles, Campagnes philosophiques au Memoires de M. de Montcal, Oeuvres completes, vol. 12.

Chapter 6 The Dialectic and Its Aesthetic Other: The Problem of Identification in Diderot and Hegel
1. G. W. F. Hegel, Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, trans. T. M. Knox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974-75), 1171. 2. "Whoever wishes to laugh with his reason, " Lessing writes toward the end of the Hamburg Dramaturgy, trans. Helen Zimmern (New York: Dover Publications, 1962), "he goes to the theater once and never goes again" (253). Lessing's view, of course, is that it is imperative to transform this situation, to create a theater in which reason has a place. 3 When A . W. Schlegel; in his Course of Lectures on Dramatic Art and Liter ature, trans. John Black (New York: AMS Press, 1965), criticizes Lessing's "lin gering faith in Aristotle," he explicitly rejects Lessing's attempt both to bring art into the purview of philosophy and to make criticism indispensable to the artist (511) . 4 Hegel's criticism of the Poetics in this respect is veiled, but nonetheless unambiguous . In the introduction to the Aesthetics, he states that the investi gation of nne art has become for many thinkers "an investigation of the feel ings, and the question has been raised, 'what feelings should be aroused by art, fear, for example, and pity? But how can these be agreeable, how can the treatment of misfortune afford satisfaction?' Reflection on these lines dates especially from Moses Mendelssohn's times and many such discussions can be found in his writings. Yet such discussions did not get far, because feeling


+ NOTE S TO PAGE S 162-178

NOTES TO PAG E S 178-185 + 263

dramatic passage from the Illiad and Challe's pictorial rendition of it: "In order to judge whether or not Challe's Hector is Homer's Hector, let us see if the discourse the old poet put in the mouth of his character would be by chance appropriate to the character depicted by the painter" (Denis Diderot, Salon de 1765 [Paris: Editions Hermann, 1984], 112). In a similar spirit, Diderot criticizes Badouin for not having chosen the appropriate moment in the dra matic action that forms the basis for his Retiring of the Bride, as "our friend Greuze" would have done (Les Salons, Oeuvres esthetiques [Paris: Editions Gar nier, 1968], 472). 17. "The different passions succeeded one another on his face. One could identify tenderness, anger, pleasure, pain" (Le Neveu, 65). 18. In Histoire de la folie a /'age classique (Paris : Editions Gallimard, 1972), Michel Foucault devotes several pages to a reading of Le Neveu de Rameau in which he argues that it represents a whole complex of subterranean historical forces that were changing the way the classical age both conceived of and experienced madness. Le Neveu de Rameau is thus included by Foucault in a select group of texts with those of Nietzsche, Artaud, and Roussel because it also does what they purportedly do: it directly manifests the disruptive force of madness in history. For Foucault, the Nephew represents "the immediate pressure of being in unreason, the impossibility of mediation'' {367). In mak ing the Nephew into a particularly radical figure of madness, Foucault neglects, in my view, the complex interaction of reflection and passion in Diderot's portrait of him. 19. Denis Diderot, Entretiens sur le Fils nature/, Oeuvres esthetiques, 103-4.

is the indefmite dull region of the spirit" (Aesthetics, 32). Though Mendels sohn's work is the explicit object of Hegel's criticism, the view that art should arouse feelings of "fear, for example, and pity" certainly does not, even for Hegel, "date especially from Moses Mehdelssohn's times" but rather from ancient Greece and the Poetics. 5 Roger Laufer, "Structure et signification du Neveu de Rameau," Revue des sciences humaines no. 100 (1960) : 399-423 . 6. Roland Desne, Introduction to Denis Diderot, Le Neveu de Rameau, Le Reve de d'Alembert (Paris: Editions Sociales, 1984). 7 G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 318. 8. H. R. Jauss, "Dialogique et dialectique," Revue de metaphysique et de morale 89, no. 2 (April-June 1984): 172. 9 Denis Diderot, Le Neveu de Rameau (Paris: G arnier-Flammarion, 1967), 138-39 10. As Jean Starobinski has put it, "to ridicule is an aesthetic disparagement [of the other], a caricature of the image of the individual" ("Sur l'emploi du chiasme dans Le Neveu de Rameau," Revue de metaphysique et de morale 89, no. 2 [April-June 1984] : 184) . 11. Jean-Fran<;ois Lyotard, Le Differend, (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1983), 142 . 12. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, "L1mpresentable, " Poetique no. 21 (1975) : 54 13. In this particular respect as in others, Lyotard's interpretation of Kant strongly recalls that of The odor Adorno. In his Aesthetic Theory, trans. C. Lehn hardt (New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984), Adorno writes: "The ascen dance of the sublime is identical with the need for art to avoid 'playing down' its fundamental contradictions but to bring them out instead. No longer is rec onciliation the result of conflict. The only aesthetic purpose is to articulate this conflict" {282) . Adorno, however, though he has many positive things to say about Kant's aesthetics, is at the same time unquestionably more critical of Kant's work (and more open to the work of Hegel) than is Lyotard. Thus he also writes : "It might be better to stop talking about the sublime com pletely. As it is, the term has been corrupted beyond recognition by the mumbo-jumbo of the high priests of art religion'' (283). 14 Jean-Fran<;ois Lyotard, "The Sublime and the Avant-Garde, " Artforum (April 1984): 40. 15. "My soul agitated by two opposed movements, I didn't know if I would abandon myself to my desire to laugh or to a transport of indignation. I was suffering . . . . He noticed the conflict taking place within me" (Le Neveu, 6o). "As for me, I didn't know if I should stay or flee, laugh or become indignant . I stayed, with the intention of turning the conversation toward a subject that would banish from my soul the horror with which it was &!led" (138) . "If he left the singing part, it was in order to take up the instrumental; . . . taking hold of our souls and holding them suspended in the most singular state I have ever experienced" (149). 16. As, for example, when Diderot bases his negative assessment of Challe's Hector Reproaching Paris for His Cowardice on a comparison between a

Chapter 7 The Tragic Matrix of Speculative Philosophy: Generalized Mimesis and the Paradoxe sur le comedien
1. The most important modern German philosopher Lacoue-Labarthe sub tracts from this Hegelian tradition is thus Heidegger. In Heidegger, Art and Pol itics: The Fiction of the Political, trans. Chris Turner (Cambridge, Mass. : Basil Blackwell, 1990), Lacoue-Labarthe takes a stance more critical of Heidegger than in any of his earlier essays. Nonetheless, even in this work, he continues to insist on what separates Heidegger from Hegel and consequently what sep arates Heideggerean philosophy from what he calls the speculative. He speaks of the "incommensurability that exists, by defmition, between a thesis on being and the question of being" and attacks the "dishonesty -but such a dishonesty is banal nowadays - of reducing the theses of Heidegger to the theses of the philosophical tradition" {n, translation modified) . 2 . Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, The Literary Absolute, trans. Philip Barnard and Cheryl Lester (Albany : State University of New York Press, 1988), 17. 3 Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, 'Timpresentable, " Poetique no. 21 (1975): 54 4. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, "The Caesura of the Speculative, " T ypogra phy: Mimesis, Philosophy, Politics, ed. Christopher Fynsk (Cambridge, Mass. :



189- 191




Harvard University Press, 1989), 227, translation modified. This volume groups together selected essays from both Le Sujet de Ia philosophie: Typogra phies I (Paris : Aubier-Flammarion, 1979); and I.:Imitation des modernes: Typogra phies II (Paris: Galilee, 1986) . 5 I n Readings in Interpretation: Holder/in, Hegel, Heidegger (Minneapolis : Uni versity of Minnesota Press, 1987), Andrzej Warminski misses or ignores this ambiguity, particularly as concerns the positive, critical side of Lacoue Labarthe's concept of mimesis. He praises Lacoue-Labarthe's readings of Holderlin, saying that they do not "flinch from formulating Holderlin's insights in all their radicality" (37). But he goes on to criticize those same read ings, arguing that they "attribute to Holderlin a mimetic model of tragedy" (39) . Lacoue-Labarthe's "mimetic" terminology has "outlived its use" and "cannot account for textual processes" to which "mimetic categories . . . are no longer p ertinent" (139-40) . With these statements, Warminski in effect refuses to engage in a discussion of whether or not Lacoue-Labarthe's con cept of mimesis might indeed have a positive critical significance in relation both to tragedy and to what Warminski calls signification or figuration. He refuses, in other words, to entertain the possibility that textual processes can themselves function as an origin when they are seen as totally autonomous, and thus that mimetic terminology may not have "outlived its use, " espe cially in a context where the "originality" of the text is a given. 6. Denis Diderot, Paradoxe sur le comidien, Oeuvres esthetiques (Paris: Edi tions Garnier, 1968), 306. 7 "If by 'completion of philosophy' is meant the exhaustion of a program, the realization or effectuation, the thinking of a bimillennial questioning of the Same out of which philosophy in its entirety has unfolded; if the completion of philosophy is the thinking of difference in the sense of that 'One differing in itself' (En diapheron heauto- Heraclitus) which Holderlin made the most constant, most explicit motif in his questioning of the essence of the Beautiful and of Art, ever since he cited it in Hyperion; if, moreover, for reasons that can not be developed here but that may be presumed familiar enough, the com pletion of philosophy is the passage over the gap or the closing of the wound (re-)opened, in extremis by Kant in the thinking of the Same; if, in short, it is this covering over of the Kantian crisis (the 'leap over Kant, ' as Heidegger puts it) and of the loss of everything this crisis swept with it beyond any power of legislating, deciding, and criticizing-then Holderlin (this is his sin gular position, his 'case,' if you like) will have represented, in this completion which he too brings about and to which he 'contributes' more than a neglig ible share, the impossibility of covering over this crisis, this wound still open in the tissue of philosophy, a wound that does not heal and that reopens con stantly under the hand that would close it" (Lacoue-Labarthe, "Caesura, " 212-13, translation modified). 8. Lacoue-Labarthe describes the decisive character of Holderlin's insight in terms of a "teetering [on the brink]"- the word in French is basculer, which Fynsk translates with the weaker "shift" ("where things begin to [teeter ]"-of the then dominant concept of the Greeks. Lacoue-Labarthe also stresses that

Holderlin's view of the Greeks constitutes "an original intuition" and "an entirely different historical thought" ("Holderlin and the Greeks, " Typogra phy, 242). 9 Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, "A Jacques Derrida: Au Nom de * , " I.:Imitation des modernes, 238-39. 10. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, "Diderot: Paradox and Mimesis," Typogra-

phy, 251-52.

J (Winter 1990), In "The Nazi Myth, " trans. Brian Holmes, Critical lnquin status of Ger unique the on insistent more not if equally is arthe Lacoue-Lab many with respect to the problematic relation of the ancient (the Greek) and the modern and hence with respect to mimesis/identification : "Since the close of the eighteenth century, it is in the German tradition and nowhere else, that the most rigorous reflection on the relationship of myth to the question of identification is elaborated . The reason for this is, primarily, that the Germans . . . read Greek particularly well, and that this problem or this investigation of myth is a very old problem inherited from Greek philosophy and, above all, from Plato" (296-97, my emphasis). 12. As Andrzej Warminski argues, Lacoue-Labarthe's interpretation of

Holderlin "reinvents the Greeks - la G rece comme telle" (Readings in Interpreta tion, 39). 13. Denis D iderot, Entretiens sur le Fils nature/, Oeuvres esthetiques (Paris: Editions Garnier, 1968), 104.

Chapter 8 Sexual Identification and the Social: Freud and Beaumarchais

1. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, "Le Peuple Juif ne reve pas," La Psychanalyse est-elle une histoire juive? (Paris: Seuil, 1981), 58. 2. Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (London: Hogarth Press, 1953), 18:105. All further citations of works by Freud refer to this edition. 3. As we have seen, the mother-son relationship does play an important role with regard to the creation of the first modern political regime - that founded by the epic poet. But significantly, that role is entirely in keeping with the wholly positive nature of the identification between herself and her son, since it involves only the protection by the mother of her favorite, young est son from p aternal jealousy (Group Psychology, 18 :136). 4 Though the mother-son relationship is the only one Freud exempts from the universal law of ambivalence in Group Psychology and Civilization and Its Discontents, in the Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis he also includes the father-daughter relationship in this exemption. Significantly, however, he nonetheless goes on to emphasize that the mother-son relationship better exemplifies love unadulterated by hostility: "There appears to be less danger [from unconscious hostility] to the relation between father and daughter or mother and son. This last provides the purest examples of an unchangeable

"'06 + NOTE S TO PAGE S 221-230

affection, unimpaired by any egoistic considerations" (Introductory Lectures, 15:206). 5 P.-A. Caron de Beaumarchais, "Essai sur le genre dramatique serieux, " Thefitre complet de Beaumarchais (Paris: Mignard, 1952), 39-40. 6 . See P.-A. Caron de Beaumarchais, Introduction, Thefitre (Paris: Editions Garnier, 1980), iv. All citations of Le Ma riage de Figaro refer to this edition. 7 Alternatively, the count is ready to punish others for actions that he him self has obliged them to commit, for example, as when he says to Cherubin in act 5, scene 15, "What were you doing in that salon?" To which Cherubin replies, "I was hiding, as you ordered me td' (Figaro, 325). This p assage cotnes immediately before the one referred to by Beaumarchais in his preface. 8. A case in point is Bartholo, whose attitude toward Figaro is anything but fatherly. But in act 5, scene 2 when Bartholo begins to understand why he and several others have been called by Figaro to wait in the garden, he nonethe less expresses his solidarity with Figaro by offering the following piece of fath erly advice: "Remember that a wise main doesn't make trouble for himself with his superiors [les grands]" (Figaro, 303) . 9 She says to herself when she learns of Figards plan to spy on Suzanne's rendezvous with the count: "I'll go watch out for Suzanne, or rather, warn her; she is such a pretty creature! Ah! when personal interest does not arm us against each other, we are all ready to support our oppressed sex against this proud, this terrible . . . (laughing) and nonetheless slightly boobish mas culine sex" (Figaro, act 5, scene 1, p. 301). 10. When he learns that the woman he was trying to seduce was not Suzanne but the countess disguised as Suzanne, he cries out to the countess: "What! It was you, Countess? (In a supplicating tone. ) Only a generous par don . . :' To which she replies: "You would say 'no, no, ' in my place [in fact he just has in the immediately preceding lines] . But as for myself, for the third time today, I grant you an unconditional pardon'' (Figaro, act 5, scene 19, p. 327, my emphasis). 11 . The view of the mother presented in Figaro can be contrasted not only with the one expressed by Freud in Group Psychology and Civilization and Its Discontents but also with that found in the work of three contemporary French feminist theorists and critics, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, and Helene Cixous. In "Difference on Trial: A Critique of the Maternal Metaphor in Cix ous, Irigaray, and Kristeva, " in The Poetics of Gender, ed. Nancy K. Miller (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), Domna Stanton argues that the critiques of phallocentrism made by each of these three writer-theorists depends on a "hidden ontology of the maternal metaphor" (161) . The privileg ing of the pre-Oedipal, the equation of femininity with the maternal, and the lyricism with which the maternal is consistently evoked in their work, in Stanton's view, points to an "onto-theologizing" of the maternal. While the work of Irigaray, Cixous, and Kristeva is Stanton's principal focus in "Differ ence on Trial, " the conclusion to her essay extends her critique to include the socio-historically oriented work of prominent American feminists: "These multi-disciplinary studies repeatedly extol pre-oedipal unboundedness, re-

N OTES TO PAGES 231-242 + 267

latedness, plurality, fluidity, tenderness, and nurturance in the name of the difference of female identity" (176). 12. The titles of the two tragedies Oedipe and Phedre appear side by side in Beaumarchais's preface to Figaro, where he cites them as the two foremost examples of tragic dramas in which incest is the principal subj ect (145) . 13 . Denis Diderot, Paradoxe sur le comedien, Oeuvres esthetiques (Paris : Edi tions Garnier, 1968), 306.

Conclusion: Tragedy and the Problem of Culture

1. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and the Case of Wagner, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House, 1967), 132. 2. Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes tropiques, trans. John and Doreen Weight man (New York: Antheneum, 1981) begins by evoking the diffuse Hegelian ism that dominated the French university when Levi-Strauss began his university training, and he himself attributes his decision to become an anthropologist to his sense of frustration at the shallowness of what he calls the mental gymnastics of dialectical reasoning (51). 3. Claude Levi-Strauss, "History and Dialectic, " The Savage Mind (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966) . 4. G . W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 278. 5. In The B irth of Tragedy, Nietzsche, of course, sees that, in order to develop what he considers to be a more profound and more serious concept of tragedy than that bequeathed by Hegel and Romanticism, he needs to dis cover, or invent, not only a new conception of tragedy but also a new Greek culture. This other, deeper, and more serious Greek culture, which he con trasts with the more traditional image of "Greek cheerfulness," is Dionysian, just as the other, deeper and more serious form of tragedy is. In terms of his theory of Greek culture, as in terms of his concept of tragedy, the dominant tendency in The Birth of Tragedy is to replace the cheerful, Apollinian model of Greece with another, tragic and Dionysian model rather than to analyze Greek culture in terms of the irresolvable conflict between the two models.

79, 190-93, 197-204, 233-36 Adorno, Theodor W., 97, 255 n. 11, 262 n. 13 Aeschylus, 19, 31, So, 115-17 Aestheticism, 20, 24, 28, 182-83 Aestheticization of the political, 31-32 Aesthetic judgment, 5, 42-48, 52-53, 176 Aesthetics (the aesthetic), 41, 47, 62, 73, 75, 157, 175-76, 178, 238; contradiction inherent in, 171-72; dependent on phi losophy, 39, 56, 71, 162, 185; fusion of, with ethics, 59-61, 166, 168, 170; as the other of philosophy, 48, 53, 69-71, 96, 185 Aggressio n (aggressive instinct) , 208-14, 219, 224, 229, 231, 233, 244 Allego ry , 24-26 Ambivalence, 6, 53, 214-20, 225-26, 230-33, 236-37, 245, 265 n. 4 Ancient tragedy, 72-77, 79, 84, 86-88, 101, 124, 127, 136, 187, 243; disruptive of dia lectic, 82, 95-96; inferior to modern tragedy, 76, 85; as model for mimesis, 190, 192, 195-97; as model for uncon scious, 101-2, 120, 243; and problem of guilt, 111, 114-16; negated and re tained in modern tragedy, 8, 74-75, 81, 83 Antigone, 7, 10, 42, 54-72, 95-96, 128, 131, 1 45-46, 150, 156, 158, 162, 166, 238-39, 242-43, 245 Antigone complex, 155-56 Anti-S emitism, 28, 213 Apollinian, 21-23, 247 n. 4, 5, 248 n. 6, 267 n. 5 Arendt , H annah, 45-46 Aristotle, 7, 16, 18, 31, 73, 83, 88, 102, 117, 215 (see also Catharsis); an authorit y for moderns, 84-86, 116; and generali zation of mimetic principle, 188-89, 194, 205; and identification, 3-6, 15861; Poetics, 4, 6, 16, 73, 83-86, 116, 158-61, 176, 188-89, 252 n . 2, 261 n. 4; and role of feeling in art, 176, 252 n. 2, 261 n. 4; and unity of action, 89, 258 n. 29 Art , 2-3, 6, 14, 34, 66, 112, 157-58, 175, 179,
Actor, role of, discussed by Diderot, 177-

193; and critique of philosophy, 17-18, 24, 30, 37, 182-83, 194-95, 198; dialecti cal nature of, 54-55, 65, 71-78, 82, 175; disruptive of dialectic, 15, 41-43, 69, 71, 82, 96, 174, 180-81, 184-87; and eth ics, 166-67; governed by philosophy, 38-40, 159-61, 177; and identiii.cation, 178, 188-89, 2o6; political authorit y of, 216-17, 234, 238, 240; privileged as an absolute, 20, 25, 37, 197, 204 Auerbach, Erich, 2, 8, 12-13, 133-51, 155-56, 258-59 n. 2, 259 nn. 4, 6-8; Mimesis, 8, 133-48, 155, 156 Aufhebung, 9, 74, 96, 110-11, 168, 192 Authority (political), 209-17, 220, 223, 236, 237, 244
Balzac, Honore de, 138-40, 144-45 Barthes, Roland, 113, 123-24, 126-27, 258 n. 30 B eaumarchais, P. A. Caron de, 7, 9, 15, 30, 143, 220-37, 245, 266 nn. 7-11, 267 n.
12; I.e Barbier de Seville, 220-21, 231; I.e Mariage de Figaro, 7, 9, 15, 220-37, 266

nn. 7-11 B eauty (the beautiful), 174-76, 181 B elaval, Yvon, 199-200, 203 B enjamin, Walter, 8-9, 20-29, 36-37, 71;

20, 23-28, 36

The Origin of German Tragic Drama, 8,

Carroll, David, 258 n. 2 Catharsis, 4-5, 13-14, 18, 31, 44, 53, 84-88, 102, 158-61, 215-16. See also Aristotle Character (individual), 73-74, 78-81, Chorus, 19, 31, 58-59, 61-62, 214-15 Comedy, 75-76, 136-37, 141, 143, 145 Communism, 211, 214, 220, 229 Consciousness, 158, 161, 163-68, 171-72, Corneille, Pierre, 7-9, 11, 29-30, 64, 71,

85-87, 116, 124, 145-46, 153

174, 177-81, 197, 239

78-79, 81-96, 114, 124, 127, 136, 150, 243, 253 nn. 13-15, 256 n. 20, 258 n. 32, 26o n . 9; I.e Cid, 78, 81-85, 92-94, 253 n . 13; "Discours de Ia Tragedie, " 84-86; Horace, 7, 11, 88-96; Oedipe, 86-88, 94-95

270 + INDEX
C reatural, the, 136-38, 141-42, 156 C ulture, 158, 163-64, 174, 195, 238-46 Death drive (instinct) , 107-8, 111, 122 Deleuze, Gilles, 49, 248 n. 7 de Man, Paul, 248 n. 6 Derrida, Jacques, 42, 62, 66-67, 188, 198, 251 n. 16 Desne , Roland, 169 Dialectic, the, 1, 10, 16, 42, 66, 78-79, 111, 157, 167, 169, 173-74, 186, 205; and cul ture, 163-64, 174, 239, 242, 245, 267 n. 2; extraphilosophical form of, 174, 180-81; and "hyperlogic," 191, 197; and identification, 5, 13-14, 163, 165, 170, 196; interrupted by tragedy, 57, 68-69, 71, 88, 95; of literary realism, 12, 134, 142, 156; and modern tragedy, 7, 72-75, 81, 83, 86; of philosophy and tragedy, 2-3, 6, 68-6g, 71; and sexual difference, 7, 9 Dialogue, 61-62, I8o Diderot, Denis, 6, 13-I5, 30, 59, I42,
157-58, t6t-81, 186-87, 189-206, 220-21, 232-35, 239, 243, 262 nn. 15, I6, 263 nn. 17, 18; 178-79, 199-200, 203-4, 22I; 61, 91-92, 156, 223-27, 2}7, 242-45, 266

INDEX + 271
to superego) , 34, 101-2, 105-6, 121, 244; and speculative philosophy, 82, 112 H egel, G. W. F., 23, 26-27, 29, 83, 86, 1oo, 111-13, 116, 192, 194, 196-98, 248 n. 7, 250-51 n. 16, 251 n. 21, 252 n. 4, 256 n. 22, 263 n. t; Aesthetics, 8, 38-43, 54, 56,
59-60, 64, 75-83, 96, 113, 117-18, 176, 181, 185; and Aristotle's 18-20, 31-32, 35; and catharsis, 4-6, 86, 158-61, 215; and the critique of philos

n. 11 Firmness of character, 74, 78-81, 85, go-91 Flaubert, Gustave, 138, 140 Freud, Sigmund, 20, 27-28, 37, 118, 120, 157, 224, 229, 236, 254 n. 6; Beyond the

Pleasure Principle, 105, 107, 121; Civiliza tion and Its Discontents, 11, 27, 121-22,
207-10, 213, 216, 218; and culture, 244-45; " Group Psychology and the


ophy, 188-94; and the disruption of Oedipal model of unconscious, 15, 33, 227, 236-37; and Hegelian dialectic, 5, 6, 10, 13-14, 158-61, 163-68; and Kant ian aesthetic judgment, s-6, 10, 43-49, in I.e Mariage de Figaro, 232-37; and passion, 178-81, 201-2, 204-6; as pro cess linking philosophy and art, 7, 40-41, 176-77; in psychoanalytical the ory, 20, 32-33, 35, 107-8, 207-20; and the social, 30-32, 35, 6o, 207-37, 243 Imitation, 187-92, 198, 200-201 Individual, the, 61-64, 73, 78, 95-96,
144-46, 208-10, 215-16, 218, 226, 2}}, 244-45 51-54; limitations inherent in, 168-75;

133-34, 137, 145, 157-60, 162, 166-69, 174,


176-77, 252 n. 2, 261 n. 4; on classical

Analysis of the E go," 207-8, 213,

2I5-16, 218-19, 235; and identification, 4-6, 15, 18, 32, 34, 45, 47, 207-20, 225, 237, 243;

art, 42-43, 55, 57; critique of Kant by,

41-43, 46, 57, 166-67, 174; and culture, 163-64, 174, 238-43; and the ethical 5,

The Interpretation of Dreams,

34, 45, 99-101, 103, 105; and modern

Entretiens sur le Fils nature/, I.e Neveu de Rameau, 13-14, 59, 157-58, 161-81, Paradoxe sur le comedien,
178, 189, 193-206, 232-35 I4, 164, I70,

tragedy (Hamlet), 11-12, 33, 100-112, 254 nn. 4, s; and mother-son relationship, 219-20, 223, 230; "Mourning and Melancholia," 105-9; and Oedipal model of tragedy, 21, 33-34, 131, 214, 218, 237, 254 n. 7; and political author ity, 15, 210-17, 233, 235, 237; and pri mary masochism, 33-34, 102-9, 113, 121-23, 127, 129, I31; "Psychopathic Characters on the S tage," 11, 102-5, 112; and sexual difference, 7, 9, 33, 3536, 128-29; and superego, 121-23, 209; T otem and T aboo, 213-14; and tragedy,
1-2, 32-33, 98-99, 113-14

community (chorus) , 55-70, 74, 238-39; on the Greeks, 59-61, 77, 238-43; and identification, 5, 13, 40-41, 6o, 69, 159-61, 163, 167-68, 178, 180-81; inter pretation of Hamlet, 72, 79-82; interpre tation of I.e Neveu de Rameau, 13-14, 157-58, 161-81; and modern tragedy,
72-83, 96;

The Phenomenology of Spirit,

Instinct, 209, 212, 216, 244-45 Introjection, 208-9, 213 Irigaray, Luce, 251 n. 22, 266 n. 11 Jauss, H. R. , I6s-66 Jealousy, 216, 228-30 Kant, Immanuel, 3, I83, 185, I9o, 220, 249 n. IO, 250 nn. I4, IS, 264 n. 7; ambiva lence of aesthetic judgment or the sublime in, 6, 52-53, I75-76; concept of reason based on identification in, 4243, 48-54; and conflict at base of aes thetics, I75-76, 262 n. I}; Critique of Judgment, IO, 42-46, 51-54, I75, 252 n. 2;

13, 56, 6o-64, 8o, 134, 157-58, 162-63, 166-67, 169, 171, 181, 197; and privilege

197-98, 239, 262 n. 15, 263 nn. I7, 18;

Dionysian, the, I, 9, IS-27, 30-36, 43, 6o, 113, 125, 162, 182, I84, 247 nn. 4, 5, 248 nn. 6-7, 267 n. 5 Doubrovsky, Serge, 92-94, 253 nn. I3-15

Drame serieux (genre serieux),

220-21, 232

I57, 161,

E go, 106, 108, 121-23, 208-g, 213, 225-26, 229, 257 n. 26 Equality, demand for, 218-20, 236-37 Eroticism (the erotic), 141-42, 146, ISO,

Genette, Gerard, 16 Genius, 158, 18o, 204 Germany (German) , 8, 26-29, 194-97, 265 n. 11 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 79-80, 99, 139, 157, 182, 196, 259 nn. 6-7 Goldmann, Lucien, 124-25, 256 n. 22, 258 n. 3I Greek art and culture, 22, 27, 55-62,
136-37, 191, 195-97, 214-15, 238-43, 265

of philosophy over art, 38-43, 53, 75, I66, 168; and sexual difference, 6-7, 62, 65-70; and the subj ect (individual character) , 73-76; and the sublime, 41-42, 57, 69; relation of, to literary realism, 133-35, 137-38; relation of, to modern French tragedy, 8-9, 11, 78-79, 82, 96, 124, 256 n. 21, 258 n. 29; and tragedy, 1-3, 7, 54-70, 75; and tragic concept of character, 144-46; and tragic guilt, 117-18, 253 n. 2 Heidegger, Martin, 39, 46, so, 54, 61, 74, 135, 182, 189, 193-94, 198, 250 n. 14, 263 n. 1, 264 n. 7 Historicism (historism) , 12, 133-35, 140, 156, 247 n. 1, 259 nn. 2, 7 History (the historical) , 133-34, 136-38,
158, 177, 240-41

Critique of Practical Reason, 47; Critique of Pure Reason, 10, 42-44, 48, 50-53;
and identification as ground of aes thetic j udgment, 5, 43-48, 5I-54; and H egel, 9-Io, 4I-43, 54-61, 66, 69, I57, 166, I71, 174-75, 252 n. 2 Krieger, Murray, 25I n. 21 Kristeva, Julia, 255 n. 12, 266 n. 11 Lacan, Jacques, 110, 255 nn. IO, I3 Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe, I4-I5, 104,
112, 173-74, I81-207, 209, 233, 235, 247 n. 265 n. n Laufer, Roger, 162 Leader (political) , 2I2-2o, 233-36 Lessing, G. E. , 2-5, 8, 13, 27, 71, 85-86, 124, I58-6I, Ig6, 220-21, 258 n. 28, 261 nn. 2, 3 Levi-Strauss, Claude, 240-4I, 267 n. 2 Liberalism, 211-12, 214, 220, 224, 227, 229 Libido, Io6-8 4, 254 nn. 6, 8, 263 n. 1, 264 nn. 5, 7, 8,

Ethical, the, 10 , 55, 58, 6o-73, 91-92, I4546, I51, 160, t66, t68, 171, 239, 242-43

nn. 11-12, 267 n. 5 Green, Andre , 113-14, 124-26 Guilt (tragic), 97-99, 114, 116-18, 120-25, 129, 131, 214-15, 253 n. 2, 256 n. 22, 257 nn. 24-25

Holderlin, Friedrich, 14, 182, t85-98, 206,

264 nn. 5, 7-8 H yperbologic, 191-93, 197, 204, 206 Hyppolite, Jean, 46, 110-11, 251 n. 16

Ethical values (imperatives) , 145-46,

151-56, 170


7, 26, 32, 97, 232, 2_6, 255 n . w;


z oo, 121, 257 n. 26

Euripides, 18-23, 27, 30-31, 47, 114, 116-17, 136, 159, 161, 247 n. 5 Everyday, the, 136-37, 140, 143 Family, 65-68, 91-92, 95, 146, 152 Fascism, 213-14, 220 Father, the, 213-19, 231, 236 Fear, 105-60, 215 Feminine, the (the law of the woman) ,

compared to Racine's lpltigthzie, 129-3 1; and displeasure, 12, 104-5; as example for psychoanalysis, 1-2, 32-33, 99-1oo, 120, 254 n. 4; as foremost modern trag edy, 72, 79; and intellectual activity, no-n; and Oedipal model of uncon scious, 11, 33-34, 36, too-101, 103, to8, n2, 254 n. s; and primary masochism, 106, 108; and repression (in relation

Id ealis m (German) , 62, 196 Identification, 16, 21, 73, 112, 126, 247 n. 4; ambiguous relation of, to culture, 243-45; ambivalence associated with,
6, 52-53, 132, 208-11, 219-20, 229-31, 236;

between father and son, 2I}, 215-18,

236-37; between mother and son, 219, 223-27, 236-37; and

The Birth of Tragedy,


of interpretation of tragedy of, 30-31,
36, oo, 267 n. 5

and primary masochism, 33-35, 106-9,
131; and repression, 101-3, 105-6, 109-10; and sexual difference, 6-7, 33, 128-29, 132; and the superego, 32-33, 106, 108-10, 113-14, 121-23, 127-29, 131, 208-9, 212-14, 219, 244, 257 nn. 24, 26, 27; and tragic guilt, 98-99


Love, 146-50, 152-53, 209, 225-31, 241, 261 n. 14 Lyotard, Jean-Fran.;:ois, 45-46, 172-73, 175, 198, 254 n. 5, 262 n. 13 Lyric subject, 19, 30-34 Masculine, the (the law of the man),
91-93, 219, 237, 242-43, 245

157, 161, 248 n. 9, 249 n. 13. See also

Society (the social), 30-33, 35-37, 146,
155-56, 207-8, 210-12, 214-15, 217, 220, 233, 243

Oedipus complex, 101, 106, 120, 126-32, 152-57, 214, 231, 258 n. 30

Oedipus Rex,

1-2, 9, n-12, 15, 32-36, 86-87,

97-105, 108, 111, 117-18, 120, 127, 131, 152, 231, 236, 244-45, 254 nn. 4, 5, 7

Socrates, 18, 21-23, 30-31, 34, so, 159, 161, 183-84, 248 nn. 6, 7 Sophocles, 19, 31-32, 61, 8o, 95, 98-99, 115-17, 131, 162. See also Oedipus Rex Spirit (Geist), 158, 160, 163-67, 170, 173 Stanton, Damna, 266 n. 11 Starobinski, Jean, 1-2, 32, 99-101, 111, 254 n. 4, 262 n. 10 State, the, 61, 65, 146 Stendhal, 138-39, 144-45, 156 Subject, the (subj ectivity), 93, 145, 167, 186, 201, 204-5, 219; and ambivalence, 51-54, 108, 176-77, 209; complexity of,
34-36, 49-51, 108, 122, 176, 181, 209, 220;

Masochism (primary), 33-36, 102, 106-9,

111, 113, 120-31, 227, 244-45

Other , the (alterity), 46-47, 51-53, 69, 170,

183-86, 206, 208-10, 223-24, 231, 236-37. 245

Rabine, Leslie, 260 n. 12 Racine, Jean, 6-9, 12, 29-30, 64, 71, 78, 81,
113-31, 135-36, 143-44, 147-52, 18o, 243, 256 nn. 20, 21, 257 n. 25, 258 nn. 30, 32, 261 n. 14;

Mauron, Charles, 113, 126-27 Melancholia, 106-8, 121-22, 208-9 Mimesis, 133, 187-202, 205, 247 n. 4, 264 n. 5, 265 n. n; generalized, 193-200 Mimetology, 188-90, 192, 195 Modern art, 23-26, 185, 190-91, 196-97 Modernity (the modern), 24, 190-91,
196-97, 239, 243

Modern tragedy, 23-25, 113, 135, 156, 185, 187; and catharsis, 83-86; French trag edy and concept of, 29-30, 7&--79, 81-82, 88-96; Hamlet as exemplary form of, 79-82, 101-3, 109; and prob lem of tragic guilt, 115-16, 120, 124-25, 129; relation of, to ancient tragedy, 8, 72-74, 83, 86; relation of, to psycho analysis, 109, 111 Moliere, Jean Baptiste Poquelin, 135-36,

Passion, 177-Bo, 199, 201-5 Paternal authority figures, 151-55 Philosophy (speculative), 14-15, 98, 263 n. 1; affinity of modern tragedy with, 8-9, n, 81; art and the critique of. 14-15, 22, 183, 186-90, 192-97, 204; as authority in relation to art, 38-40, 56, 72, 75-76, 157, 159-62, 166, 168, 177; and culture, 239, 241-42, 246; elaborated through interpretation of tragedy, 1-2, 4, 7, 10, 42, 71; and identification,
13-14, 158-61, 163, 168, 170, 173-75, 180-81; limitations of, app arent in

149-52; 124-27,


Andromaque, n6, 119-20; An Berenice, 124, 143, 147, Iphigenie, 7, 12, 114-16, 119-20, 129-31, 144, 257 n. 25; Phedre,

n6-18, 123, 126-27, 131, 148, 231, 256 n. 21, 257 n. 25

relation t o tragedy, 3, 6-7, 16, 68-70,

96; and literary realism, 12, 134; and

psychoanalysis, 1-4, 6-7, 14, 62, 11011, 131; and sexual difference, 7, 9;

Morality , 166-72 Mother, the, 217-20, 223-27, 230-31, 236, 255 n . 12, 265 nn. 3, 4, 266 n . n Nancy , Jean-Luc, 45, 207, 209 Narcissism (primary), 33, 108-9, 120,
219-20, 225-26, 236

uneasy relations of, with art, 41-43,

57, 71, 76-77, 81-82, 169, 173-74, 177, 180-81, 184-86, 206

Nationalism, 28-30 Nature (the natural), 55-57, 61-62, 65-68,

158, 203, 225, 240

Pity , 15g--6o, 171, 176, 178, 215, 221, 224 Plasticity (of character), 117-18, 252 n. 8 Plato, 7, 18, 22-23, 216 Pleasure principle, 99, 102-11, 125, 131-32,
150-51, 175, 177, 181


197, 202, 205

Randomness (of the real), 134-35, 156 Realism, 12-13, 133-42, 153, 156, 259 nn. 6, 7, 200 n. 12 Reason (the rational), 112, 157; based on identification, 43-44, 48, 54, 176, 178, 181; in conflict with nature, 55, 61, 65-66, 68; and culture, 239, 241; and displeasure or suffering, 97-98, 131, 176, 181; as exemplilied by I.e Neveu de Rameau, 158, 162; and guilt of tragic heroes and heroines, 97-98, 118-19, 131; link to aesthetic j udgment and art, 43-44, 48; link to sentiment and passion, 176-77, 180-81; and the sub lime, 52-55, 68, 175 Reflection, 177-81, zoo, 202-5 Religion, 145-47, 152 Representation, 187-88, 197, 244 Repression, n, 33-34, 99, 101-13, 120, 131,
151, 217, 255 n. 12 Resistance, 102-4

dialectical function of, 74; as dramatic p rinciple, 74, 76, 82; inaccessibility to knowledge and understanding, 48-51, 232; role of identification in constitu
51, 53-54, 176, 220, zz6; rooted in ethi

tion of. 4, 10, 19, J2, 35-36, 40, 46, 49,

cal community , 58-oo Sublime, the, 41-44, 48, 51-57, 68-69, 98, 175, 242, 262 n. 13 Suffering (displeasure), 103-12, n8, 121,
125, 130-32, 175-77, 181

Superego, 32-33, 106, 108-n, 113-14,

121-23, 127-31, 208-9, 213-14, 219, 244, 257 nn. 24, 26, 27

Szondi, Peter , 56, 61, 63 Tragedy (the tragic, tragic art), 24-25, 53, 78, 103, 113, 143, 191, 247-48 n. 5, 248 n. 7, 251 n. 21, 254 n. 5, 256 n. 22, 259-60 n. 8, z6o n. 9 (see also Ancient trag edy; Guilt [tragic]; Modern tragedy); affinity with philosophy of Kant on the sublime, 43-44, 53-54, 58, 69, 242; and ambivalence, 6, 152, 215; centrality of role of, in constitution of specula tive philosophy and psychoanalysis, 1-2, 7, 100, 185-86, 250 n. 16; and cul ture or politics, 26-31, 35, 215, 238-39, 242-43, 249 n. 13; determined by phi losophy, 38, 40, 6g, 92-98, 161; dialecti cal character of, 55-57, 65, 68, 253 n. z; as exemplary literary and aesthetic model, 2-3, 55, 72; as exemplilied in Greek art, oo-61, 267 n. 5; exemplilied in modern French tragedies, 8-9, 1112, 26-27, 29-30, 236-37; exemplilied in Racine's heroines, 124-25, 131-32; and

Negation (V erneinung), 110, 255 n. 14 Neoclassicism (French), 26-27, 29, 135-40,

151, 157, 159, 195

Politics (the political), 30-33, 36-37, 210-11,

216, 233-37

Neurosis, 101, 103, 106, no, 120, 210 New historicism, 134, 247 n. 1 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 1-2, 8, 33, 37, so, 58, 113, 189, 193-94, 198, 249 n. 12; artists' metaphysics of, 20-25, 34-35, 40, 183;

Prevost, Antoine-Fran.;:ois, 7, 9, 12, 30, 139-56, 258 n. 32, 259 nn. 7, 8, 260 n.


Manon Lescaut,

7, 12-13, 139-56, 245

P rimal horde (primal father), 213, 215-16, Psychoanalysis, zo, 62 (see also Freud, Sigmund); and aggression, 290-11; and displeasure, 102-6; elaborated through interpretation of tragedy , 1-2, 11, 16, 19, 100; and identification,
32-33, 35-36, 107-8, 207-20, 236-37; limi

Sallis, John, 248 n. 9 Schelling, F. W. J., 56, 57, 87, 97-98 Schiller , Friedrich, 139, 157, 177, 191, 196,
259 n. 6 Schlegel, A. W., 8, 29, 43-44, 97, 148-49, 157, 162, 261 n. 3 Self-knowledge, 130, 160-61, 168, 18o Self-reflexivity, 51, 221, 240 Sensitivity, 199-202 Sentiment, 141-42, 149-50, 176-77, 181, 221 Sexual, the, 131-32, 141-42, 150, 155-56 Sexual difference, 6--7, 33, 56, 61-62, 65-66, 69-70, 91-92, 128, 226-27, 242-44, 251 n. 22, 258 n. 33

The Birth of Tragedy,

1, 8, 20-32, 36, 43,

so, 54, 58, oo, 182-83, zJB, 248 nn. ;, 7, 9, 267 n . s; critical value of concept of 238, 247 nn. 4, 5, 248 nn. 6, 7; and Ger

tragedy of, 9, 17-18, 20, 22-23, 182,-83,

many, 27-30, 248 n. 9; and identilica tion, 3, 18-19, 31-32, 47; and Kant, 43-44, 174, 249 n. 10; social dimension

tations of, apparent in relation to trag edy, 3, 6-7, 16, 109-12, 129, 131-32, 236-37; and philosophy, 1-4, 6-7, 16, 62, 97-98, 110-11, 131; and the p olitical or social, 32-36, 207-8, 210-20, 236-37;

Shakespeare, William, 8, 11, 26, 29, 32,

36, 78-82, 100, 103, 100, 112, 131, 136,